how does the court handle child support when the parents are splitting custody of the kids?

First we need to understand that Joint Managing Conservatorship in Texas is not split custody.  In a typical joint managing conservatorship one party has the right to determine the primary residence of the child and the other parent has visitation.  This post is not for those situations. This post is for parents who have a child an equal amount of time such as week on week off or some other type of 50/50 arrangement.

In this situation the court will calculate what each party would pay the other in child support and take the difference, awarding child support to the parent with the lower income.

For instance, David and Delila Divorce have one child Danny whom they share on a week on week off basis.  The court calculates child support that each would pay the other if the other parent had full custody.  After calculations the Court determines that David would pay $500 and Delila would pay $750 if the other parent had custody.

The court awards David child support of $250 per month ($750 – $500).

The common question in this situation is why there is any child support at all since they both have equal time with the child?  While the dollar amount to raise the child is the same for both parents, there is a disparity in the income of the parties which means that each dollar spent means something different to each parent.

Imagine if Delila made $100,000 per year and David makes $25,000 per year (these are not the numbers I used above for the child support calculation).  $1000 spent on the child to Delila is nothing while the same $1000 for David is a lot.

One party pays the other child support to offset the difference in the parties’ income.  While this might not always seem fair to the person who has to pay child support, it does offset the incomes.

If you are reviewing the Texas Family Code links above for child support, you will not find a statute covering this discussion in there.  This is a typical practice of the Court* and may not always be the case.  In fact, I have handled some cases where the parties do not pay each other any child support, but these were typically agreed cases.

*Note that I practice family law primarily in Dallas and Collin County.

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68 Responses to how does the court handle child support when the parents are splitting custody of the kids?

  1. Mike June 29, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    I live in Abilene, Texas. I am a divorced father of 3 little boys. My current visitation with my kids is every Tuesday and Thursday overnight, and the 1st 3rd and 5th weekends. I pick up the boys from school and daycare on Tuesday and drop them off Wednesday morning. I pick them up again Thursday after school and return them Monday morning on my weekends. Otherwise I return them Friday morning to school. My issue- i will always have the kids more than my-ex wife. 2011, I have them 190 days…2012 i have them 196 days…etc. I am currently paying her $1075 directly for child support a month, $425/ month for half of day care, and $500 a month I deposit into an UGMA for the kids. Is there any way to take this to court and have my child support reduced?

    please reply to my emails:
    thanks

    michaelmellott44@hotmail.com
    michael.mellott@dyess.af.mil

  2. Chris Schmiedeke June 30, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Yes, you can request that your child support be reduced. However, be careful because you may get hit with a counter suit to modify the visitation down from what you currently have.

  3. Erika July 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    My husband and I are getting an uncontested divorce, already filed. We want to split custody and do not want to stipulate child support. Is this possible?

  4. Erika July 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    Also, do we have to name one or the other as the “Home Parent” on the Standard Possesion (Visitation) and Access Order?

  5. Chris Schmiedeke August 1, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    Possibly. It depends on the Court. If you explain that you will have 50/50 then they may approve. You do not have to designate a primary, but you need to have provisions dividing the rights and duties.

  6. Sheri A September 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    My husband went to court and they now have a 50/50 agreement and he is paying child support. We are a little unsure as to what this child support is to cover. Are we still responsible for other extracurricular expenses?

  7. Chris Schmiedeke September 26, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    Unless the decree or order specifically lists items that need to be paid such as extracurriculars, child support is meant to cover everything. Health insurance would be an additional expense.

  8. Nathan S March 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    I am in the process of filing now and plan on filing as Joint Managing conservators with no party choosing primary home because we have our son 50/50 (I actually have him more). Since I pick him up from school and he eats two of his meals at my home during the week and some weekends, should I have to pay child support because he sleeps at his mother’s house? she makes more than i do and carries him on her insurance at work.

  9. Chris Schmiedeke April 2, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    All that depends on the actual possession schedule and the income of the parties. Ultimately, if the two of you cannot agree, a judge will have to decide the issue.

  10. Henry C. April 15, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    Two questions…

    My wife and I are getting divorced. We will have are two boys 50/50 and this is an uncontested, amicable divorce with both of us comming to an agreement to share the kids an equal amount of time as well as expenses. Having said that, here are my questions…

    1. Will I be ordered to pay child support even if we can come to an agreement without a court’s influence?
    2. I worked a massive amount of overtime while we were married and increased my salary by almost $40k. Will I be forced to pay child support on that amount, or rather my set salary? Overtime isn’t always garunteed and I would not be able to work that amount of time as a “single” parent.

  11. Chris Schmiedeke May 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    Typically the court will approve agreements on child support when there is a 50/50 situation. You would be best to check with a local attorney to better understand the rules with regard to child support in a 50/50 situation when there is not an agreement.

  12. Michael June 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    My wife and i are getting a divorce 2 kids, my son will live with me while my daughter with my ex… I make more than her. Will the difference in income be similar to the 50/50 split?

  13. Gidget June 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    I have been divorced for over 4 years and my exhusband sees our 4 children ever 2-3 months, by his request.

    He is now wanting the children more where he lives, which is over 3 hours away, but lives in a one bedroom condominium. He has filed a temporaray order for shared custody…will the courts grant this automatically since he’s their father or will they even look at the bedroom situation? That means 6 people (his girlfriend lives with him) in total in a one bedroom condo. Is this legally acceptable?!

  14. Cindy June 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    I am currently going through a divorce and
    I have had my 3 children living with me. We are waiting for the decree to be signed but for the time my ex is now wanting to change his mind about the children only because he doesn’t want to pay child support. He lives a few houses down and only has asked to see the kids every other weekend. Would the
    Judge go in his favor if we go to court and he says he change his mind and wants primary care of the children?

  15. David S. June 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    My ex-wife and I have been divorced for some 7+ years. The divorce was amicable and we remain friends today. We have joint conservatorship of two children which are now young teenagers. The kids divide their time equally at each house and we have maintained a 50/50 timeshare since divorced. I make more money than she does. I pay $700 per month for child support. She recently got remarried. Is the computation for her income based on her personal income or is it based on the joint earnings of her and her new spouse? Is it possible to eliminate the $700 monthly payments or would this require a suit on my part? Is it common for divorced parties to revisit child support payments when the receiver of child support gets remarried and their financial situation and household income change?

    Thank you very much for a reply – I would suspect that this topic would be of interest to others.

    David S.

  16. David W July 28, 2012 at 5:15 am #

    I am in the midst of divorce. The judge recently set temporary orders where I am required to pay child support of nearly $900/month plus and additional $400/month for my daughter’s day care and an additional $150/month for my son’s soccer team. My wife makes nearly the 100K/year while I am around 50K. This is crippling for me financially and will not allow me to get a place for myself and my children. It is obvious to me and my family and friends that this is grossly unfair but the judge thinks it is. Are there any options or am I simply stuck with this?

  17. Matthew B August 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    I have been divorced for what will be a year in Oct with two kids that I see everyday. I am with during the hours of the day I do not work and they are with their mother the other half and stays the night with her because i work nights. Every other weekend i watch them over night amd the weekends i dont watch them overnight i watch them for a couple of hours. In our divorce decree we originally stated that i would pay $400/mo in child support while having joint custody and 50/50 responsibility of medical, educational and disciplinary decisions. I still have her on my family mobile phone plan and part of my car insurance. I work $11.64/hr at 34hr/wkly. She works $12+/hr for 32hr/wkly when she doesnt make an excuse to call into work. I dont have my own place because i cant afford one with the child support i pay. We’ve been recently talking of moving back together as roommate parents to get rid of the child support but i dont think its a good idea. Since we make just about the same amount of money is there anyway we could just come to an agreement to drop the child support since we originally agreed on the amount of child support paid in our divorce decree?

  18. Shannon August 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    I have a 6 month old and have recently split from his father who Ive never been married to. I recently filed for child support but have not received a date on the case. Will I need to hire an attorney to help with child support decisions and custody? Or is it common to resolve that without an attorney during the child support process?

  19. Donna September 28, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    My x is talking about taking me to court to get 50/50 and I do not want this. What are the chances of him getting this? He gets him on his 1st 3rd and 5th weekends.. he NEVER in 6 yrs has picked him up on Thursday that was given to him and he misses his baseball games and practices.. he never calls him even when he goes over 3 weeks with out seeing him he doesn’t call..

    I am having his child support modified and he is really angry and doesn’t want to pay more.. so he figures if he has J half the time he won’t have to pay and it is to hurt me..

    What can I do?

    Also, what is the % for 1 child?

    Thanks
    Donna

  20. Madison November 3, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    What if the custodial parent makes more than the Non custodial parent or about the same? are there special calculations in this case? I can’t see how texas doesn’t use any of the non custodial parents income to do figuring. It seems very unjust, especially when the non custodial parent has another child and has to pay daycare on that child while the other is in public school. So she can make whatever she wants and still benefit from getting more money when she makes the same or close to the father? Please tell me texas isn’t that screwed up.

  21. Brad November 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    I am recently going through a divorce and have one child. We have agreed on joint custody but the only way she will agree is if I agree to 600.00 a month and provide health care! I want to see my son on a weekly basis but seem as though 600 a month for split time is unfair. Is there anyway I can go around this too get it lowered and still hold her to the agreement of joint custody. It’s obvious it’s about money and both the child?

  22. George February 18, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    I went through a divorce a few years back and have 50/50 with my 2 kids (week on/week off) but still pay $1,350/month. I would do anything for them but I feel the situation is being taken advantage of by the mother who’s been dating and has a live-in boyfriends who owns 8 salons. She does a lot of work for them (yet only claimed $3,600 in 2012 income), they own a house (while I rent and can’t even get approved for a loan) and 2 new cars (where I can’t even get approved for a loan). The mom has the kids on Medicare (even though I cover them through my employer) and takes every other handout the state provides. I just don’t understand what my options are…I would do anything for those kids but don’t feel I should pay her so she can go to college now for 3 years. How long does this go on? I contacted the AG to inquire on an adjustment and they said they would only look at the changes in my income, not hers. I just need advice on where to go from here.

  23. Kim February 26, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    Hi I have read many of your post and found the information to be very helpful. In our situation is Per our court order custody agreement we have his son 18 days and his mother had him 12. We are ordered to pay 470 per month in support.  My husbands income is 52K for a family of 5. Mom income is 20K for a family of 3. She also receives additional support for the other child of $5940 per yr. So $25,940 not including the support from my husband. What is a reasonable request for a meditated child support agreement?  
    My suggestions
     
    To have each family support child in home, with father providing medical support.

    Or

    Take $470 current support times 12 months equals $5640 divided by 365 days equals $15.45. Take $15.45 times 12 days he is in her home that equals $185.40 per month.

    Or

    52K divided by family of 5 (husband) equals $10400
    Minus
    26K divided by family of 3 (mom) equals $8767
    $10400 minus $8767 
    Equals $ 1733
    Divided by 12 equals 144.42 monthly support

    In addition to child support we live in separate counties where his son attends school in a different district. We drive 132 miles round trip per day 3 to 4 times a week. 

    We are in need of some relief, any advise will be greatly appreciated 🙂

     

  24. Chris Schmiedeke February 27, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    I think all your ideas are good, however, you do not need to convince me, you need to convince a judge. You would need to file a modification with the court that has the original order. Good luck.

  25. Chris Schmiedeke February 27, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    Her income and financial situation are not relevant as child support is your DUTY as a parent. She could make $500,000 a year and you would pay the same amount you are paying. That is your obligation as a parent. It has nothing to do with her.

    It is also irrelevant how she spends her money. Are you telling me the children do not have a roof over their head? Do they have electricity? A telephone? How about sewage? Do they have an automobile that uses gas? Of course they do, and the mother is responsible for those costs.

    Not trying to be mean, but unfortunately you have no options. There are thousands out there who make the same exact argument, and it falls on deaf ears because they are looking at it the wrong way. Hang in there, I promise you will make it through.

  26. Kim February 27, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    In 2011 we went before the court because of some bad choice mom had made. The court ruled for his son to live in our home 18 days per month, but left mom as the custodial parent. My understanding of support is to provide for the child. What is the purpose of him living in our home 18 days and still paying to support him there too? When is mom responsible for supporting him? Is him living in our home not considered supporting the child? I feel the system has us.
    You speak of a roof, telephone, sewage, auto & gas…. A person would have those expenses regardless of having a child. All of those expenses we occur in our home as well. We have her son more days during the month but there is no one sending us any support. It feels like double jeopardy. We pay all expenses to raise him in our home and we send her money so she can too. Why does the system think the duty only falls to the father? It took both of them to have a child. In our situation common sense for the courts should trump the black and white guidelines.

  27. Chris Schmiedeke February 27, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    Your argument can be used against you as well. You would have all those expenses anyway. So that, it would seem, is a wash. The argument of the 18 days versus 12 is now irrelevant because you would have those expenses anyway according to your argument. So now we are back to square 1.

    Again, you are missing the point. The point is that supporting a child is an obligation of every parent. In your case, the court has ordered you to support the child regardless of the living situation. My bet is because of the disparity of income.

    If you do not like the order of the Court, you are free to request the Court to modify. That does not mean contact the AG. That means get an attorney and file a request to modify the order. Make these arguments to the judge. I’m not sure they will work, but it is worth a shot.

    Good luck.

  28. Kim February 27, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    It seems we are in a tough place and no relief in sight. I appreciate all your advise and insight to this matter. 🙂

  29. Mike April 5, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    If I do a 50/50 visitation split and we work to share everything, is there a need for a primary? What does that really do for you. Me and the soon x-wife have agreed to almost everything to setup a family plan that we will take to an attorney to writeup and submit.

    She is heel bent on being named primary. In reading a few things here, I am not sure it matter; plus I think we want to use my address for the schools so the boys do not need to change.

    So I am confused on 2 levels. 1 – why does she really care so much, does it really matter. 2 – I think in many aspects I am primary based on some of the reading because besides paying child support I am provide health coverage and paying for many other of the stuff they will do. PLUS I will see them 50% of the time.

    I am just a little concerned she is asking for this, no demanding this because of some other part I am not aware of.

  30. Kristian April 11, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    My wife and I are separated and everything is seemingly smooth at this point. We have been attempting to file using one of those online draft the papers for you things but joint 50/50 custody isnt something clearly offered in any we have found.
    Now she makes more than I on the order of 5 to 6 times of my take home. But she is also taking the lions share of the both college funds and all daycare cost for the youngest.

    We have separate everything else. I say 50/50 but i seem to get lucky and get the boys a little more most of the time. Wish it was all but i do know the value of them having both parents so trying not to let my wishes step on their needs.

    anyway is there someone that we can speak to in person as a parenting team to help us get the legal pooh handled?

  31. Chris Schmiedeke April 11, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    You will need to either hire an attorney or an adaptable forms package. I assume you are in the State of Texas.

    If you would like information on my forms packages, it can be found on this website.

  32. Diana O May 25, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    We have 2 girls, both teenagers and until recently had 50/50 split with neither paying child support. I carry health insurance on the girls and ex-husband was to reimburse me for half of the health insurance.

    Went back to court recently to modify 50/50 split. Ex-husband was given sole managing conservatorship of our oldest daughter but lives with my former in-laws and not her dad. I was given sole managing conservatorship of our youngest daughter and ex husband gets standard possession.

    Does ex-husband still need to reimburse me for half of the health insurance?

    What if he was behind on the reimbursement before the final order?

    When we went back to court ex-husband was behind 5 months on the health insurance reimbursement and has refused to pay for his half of the uncovered medical bills for our youngest daughter.

  33. Kimber July 3, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    Chris,
    We are going through discussions trying to come to a mutual agreement.
    We have 2 children. His base is $48k and mine is $54k. He is currently giving me $500 a month. I pay for their health insurance and all activities. He has them 1 day a week and every other weekend during the summer. During the school year, he has them every other weekend. Of the $500, $300 goes to insurance alone. Can you make any fair recommendations that would give both of us shared responsibility? Thank you

  34. Steve July 13, 2013 at 5:54 am #

    Hello, I live in Texas and my wife and I have agreed to file for divorce. We have two minor children and we plan on having joint custody. We are going to agree on everything, including property split and how much money she needs from me for child support. I would like to simply pay this to her directly and not have to go through the state system. We are planning on doing this with no lawyer, so my question is – is it possible (if we both agree in writing) to not have court mandated child support and just let me support my kids in agreement with my wife? Or do you think the court will most likely require it? Second question – is it possible to pay less than the standard calculated amount? My question is because we are going to agree on a set amount that I give her every paycheck, but I am also going to be paying for a lot of other associated stuff that my kids need, on demand, and all the time. I have the idea that if I mandated to pay that amount, I am going to be resistant to paying “extras”, but if we can agree on a reasonable amount, I basically am going to pay more than the mandated amount. Is this possible if we both agree and everything is documented and signed?

  35. Misty September 26, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    I live in the Dallas, TX area. My ex-husband and I divorced in 2008, and have joint custody (50/50). When we went through the process, I was naive (and not counseled well) and agreed to $100 a month instead of child support the way it should have been. Now, 5 1/2 years later, I know the $100 is not fair and does nothing to help me or my son. I drive 20 minutes to take my son to school and pick him up (on my days). I drive 30 mins for practices and games, plus help pay for leauges and equipment. Groceries are needed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Clothes for a 7 year old are not cheap, nor are activities or things needed/wanted. All these things that need to be paid for, plus any unexpected expense, and the ex-husband will still ask me for money. Can I go back to court and request more child support, and what steps do I need to take? I really appreciate any advice, suggestions, or help you can give me. Thanks!!!

  36. cindy October 5, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    We want to know what are our chances of getting a 50/50 approved by a judge if Mom doesn’t agree….we feel that both my husband and her should have equal time and right to the child but right now we only get him 1st, 3rd and 5th weekend, and for two hours in Thursdays. Thanks!

  37. John December 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    My wife has filed for divorce with the promise to share our two kids 50/50. Since filing she has been terminated from her job. How will this affect the amount of child support (if any) that is owed? She previous made a touch more than me in base salary. That’s for any input!

  38. KH December 17, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    Uncontested divorce – wife signed waiver.
    50/50 custody of two boys.
    Both parents work and live in the same home.
    Husband makes more than ex-wife (40K to 20K), but husband pays most bills.
    Ex-wife will pay for food and certain other expenses (for her and the kids) but pays no rent.
    Husband signed over 7yr old car title (current value: $10,000 that was in his name) over to wife, while obtaining a 15K loan to buy a used car (this was 2 months after husband filed petition for divorce).
    Therefore husband is paying all major bills (mortgage, utilities, auto/home insurance, property taxes, and car loan) while wife is only paying for food and minor expenses.

    Questions:
    1) Under these circumstances, should anyone pay child support?
    2) What concerns would the court (likely) have with this arrangement that was not addressed?

  39. Chris Schmiedeke February 3, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    In Texas, typically someone always pays child support regardless of the possession of the children. Read through my post.

  40. Chris Schmiedeke February 3, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    Most likely the court would calculate her support as if she earned minimum wage.

  41. Teresa August 8, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    My ex-husband and I have had a 50/50 custody arrangement for the past 3 years with him paying child support payments to me. He is now saying he shouldn’t be obligated to pay. Is it common for the court to adjust the arrangements we made when we first got divorced?

    I have read through all the posts and understand that you say in Texas someone pays child support even in joint custody arrangements. Are the courts likely to reduce the amount? Or is there any legal articles I can point him to to show him that he is still obligated to pay without going to court?

    Thanks!

  42. Robbie cantu August 28, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    My ex wife and I are going back to court and I will have our son and she will have our 2 daughters. I can’t find anything on what I will need to pay her now for child support. I have been paying child support on all 3 for 2.5 yrs. How does attorney general calculate payment. Thank you.

  43. leah December 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    My sons father is threatening to try and get 50/50, he doesn’t even take him when he is supposed to now. My son is also autistic and need routine. Can I use that to help keep his routine the way it is. He only want to do 50/50 so he doesn’t have to pay me child support ( he makes more so he still would some) I told him that my sons insurance is going to go up and that is what prompted this. He only pays me a fraction of the insurance because when we split my son was in between insurances. I have been paying for all but 40$ and have not taken him back for it. I don’t want to disturb my sons routine just because his dad doesn’t want to fork out the money. Can I use than if he takes me to court. Keep in mind he has never been to a Dr apt or a ARD meeting at the school and my son is 7!

  44. Chris Schmiedeke December 3, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    To modify a prior order of the Court the person has to prove there was a material and substantial change in circumstances since the date of the original order to even qualify for a modification. What are the SUBSTANTIAL changes? Doesn’t sound like there are any. I would suspect he is just bluffing. If he files something, you need to contact an attorney to help you with the case.

  45. Chris Schmiedeke December 3, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    I am not sure how the AG would calculate your child support, however, typically the Court would determine the amount of child support to be paid by taking the difference between what she would pay you for the one child versus what you would pay her for the two. If y’all cannot agree on a figure you may need an attorney to help you with the calculations. Good luck.

  46. Chris Schmiedeke December 3, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    A person is entitled to have the child support reviewed every three years to determine the proper amount. The questions is what would the court do if he filed to have it removed? In my experience, the courts typically do an offset in 50/50 situations. That means they calculate what each person would pay the other in child support and take the difference. You may want to talk to an attorney in your area to see what the Judge’s practices are with regard to that issue.

  47. Zedrick Glisper December 12, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    What should I do if I want to split the custody of the children and she doesn’t, just for the sole purpose of getting the child support? As my boys father I want to spend more time with them as I only get every other weekend which amounts to 4 days a month. I am going to move closer to help the judge make a decision for 50/50 but how should prepare for 50/50 I am a 100% disabled vet and that is the only income I have.

  48. Amanda February 23, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    My husband has 3 kids with his ex wife. He has primary custody of two, and she has primary custody of one child. He carries health insurance as well. She gets all three kids two weekends a month, and he has all three kids three weekends a month. Should he be legally required to pay child support? We also have four younger kids together, so he has seven total, with only the one child not living with him full time.

  49. Cassie February 23, 2016 at 11:22 am #

    My ex and I have 3 children, for the past 8 years they have lived with me and he is supposed to pay $975 per month. In June 2015 our oldest son went to live with him and we have been trying to get the child support modified, however he is now $20k behind in child support and a hearing has been set by OAG. My question is, since 2 live with me and 1 with him will TX OAG find that he has to pay on only 1 (the other 2 cancelling each other out)? This is what we are hoping for, but I can’t find anything online to reference regarding this matter. I would hope it would be this way and not me having to pay on 1 and him having to pay on 2. Thanks for your help ahead of time.

  50. Chris Schmiedeke March 2, 2016 at 8:52 am #

    Typically when there are children in more than one household, they will calculate what each party would pay the other in child support and take the difference.

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