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How joint custody affects child support

Joint custody is an increasingly common solution to child custody concerns for Washington parents who decide to divorce. In general, joint custody means that both parents share the legal and physical responsibility with their children, and in many cases, they have nearly equal time with the kids in their respective homes. Because the setup is different from a sole custody situation, many parents may wonder how joint custody can affect a child support order.

Child support is meant to ensure that a parent without the daily responsibilities of caregiving and child-rearing provides financial support to help cover the child's living expenses. A child support order can be based on income, the number of children and other key factors. When joint custody is in place, there can be different child support arrangements depending on the individual circumstances of a family. In many cases, joint legal custody is common with one parent retaining primary physical custody. Generally, that parent would still be the recipient of child support payments. In other cases, a child support order may be reduced by the amount of time that the paying parent has his or her child.

Several factors are considered when awarding child support in cases where parents share joint custody, including the ability of each parent to maintain their housing for the child and the additional expenses that can be incurred due to joint custody. Travel costs, multiple sets of clothing or additional childcare may be involved.

In general, it is best when divorcing parents can come to an agreement with one another about child support in a joint custody situation. A family law attorney may help develop such an agreement in an amicable situation and work to pursue the necessary child support in a situation where an agreement cannot be worked out between the parents.

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