So you and you ex-spouse have decided on joint physical custody of your kids, do you still have to pay child support? This is a question we are often asked by our clients. So the short answer is yes, there still child support when parents share custody of their kids.

Joint or Shared Physical Custody & Child Support

It is typical for Connecticut families, who have a parenting plan with joint physical custody, to still have child support. Connecticut actually uses an “income shares model” when it comes to child support.  The Connecticut theory is that a child should receive the same proportion of parental income as he or she would have received if the parents were still together in the same home. So even when parents have joint custody, there may be child support moving from the higher-earning parent to the lower-earning parent.

Joint Custody Deviation from the Child Support Guidelines

Under the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines, when a shared physical custody arrangement exists, it may be appropriate to deviate from presumptive support amounts if the arrangement substantially:

  • both parents have substantially equal income.
  • increases expenses for the child, for the parent with the higher net weekly income; and
  • reduces expenses for the child, for the parent with the lower net weekly income, or
  • sufficient funds remain for the parent receiving support to meet the needs of the child after deviation; or

Child Spends 50% of Their Time at Each Parent’s House

A common understanding is that if their child spends at least 50% of her time at a parent’s house, child support is eliminated. This not the case. The Commission that drafts the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines rejects the notion of a mathematical formula based on the time children spend with each parent to determine support amounts in the shared physical custody context.

Using a formula would actually shift the focus away from the best interests of the child and more toward financial considerations, which would be very inconsistent with Connecticut law.

Joint Physical Custody Definition

Just as Connecticut rejects a formula based upon percentages, the Commission also rejects a bright-line definition of shared custody to discourage disputes over time-sharing as a means of affecting support amounts. The finding of shared physical custody should be made only where each parent exercises physical care and control of the child for periods substantially in excess of two overnights on alternate weekends, alternate holidays, some vacation time, and other visits of short duration, which usually include an overnight stay during the week. While there are typically periods of substantial excess of this schedule are required for a finding of shared physical custody, the commission emphasizes that an equal time-sharing is not required for such finding.

The Commission does leaves it to Courts to determine what precise level of sharing is sufficient to warrant a deviation from presumptive support amounts.

Speak to an Experienced Law Attorney Today

Contact the Law Offices of Keith Anthony at (860) 333-6455. Attorney Keith Anthony can help you navigate thru this process, step by step and is open to assist you.  If negotiations fail we can arrange mediation of your disputes. We can help you make agreements that can be filed with the court.