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50/50 Custody in Missouri: How it Affects Child Support Payments

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Learn how 50/50 custody impacts child support in Missouri—factors affecting payments, court considerations, and tips for parents in equal custody arrangements.

In Missouri, 50/50 custody arrangements are becoming increasingly common as courts recognize the benefits of children having equal time with both parents. However, many parents wonder how this custody split affects child support obligations.

At The Betz Law Firm, we will help you understand how 50/50 custody impacts child support in Missouri, the factors courts consider, and what you should know about this complex issue.

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Understanding 50/50 Custody

Before diving into child support, it’s essential to understand what 50/50 custody means in Missouri:

  • 50/50 custody, also called joint physical custody, means that children spend approximately equal time with each parent.
  • This can be structured in various ways, such as alternating weeks, 2-2-3 schedules, or 2-2-5-5 schedules.
  • 50/50 custody is distinct from legal custody, which refers to decision-making authority for the child.

Missouri’s Approach to Child Support in 50/50 Custody Cases

Missouri uses an “income shares” model for calculating child support, which considers parents’ income and the number of overnights each parent has with the child. In 50/50 custody situations:

  • The basic calculation is still performed using Form 14.
  • Each parent’s support obligation is calculated based on their proportion of the combined income.
  • The higher-earning parent typically pays the difference between the two calculated amounts to the lower-earning parent.

However, 50/50 custody can significantly impact the final child support amount due to several factors:

Factors Affecting Child Support in 50/50 Custody Arrangements

  • Income Disparity
    • If parents have similar incomes, child support may be minimal or unnecessary.
    • Large income disparities may still result in significant support payments from the higher-earning parent.
  • Overnight Adjustments
    • Missouri’s Form 14 includes an overnight adjustment that can reduce support obligations for parents with significant parenting time.
    • In 50/50 custody, both parents qualify for the maximum overnight adjustment.
  • Shared Expenses
    • Courts consider how parents divide expenses like school fees, extracurricular activities, and medical costs.
    • Equal sharing of these expenses may reduce the need for additional support payments.
  • Cost of Living Differences
    • If parents live in areas with significantly different living costs, this may be factored into support calculations.
  • Special Needs of the Child
    • Additional expenses related to a child’s needs may impact support amounts, even in 50/50 custody situations.

Court’s Discretion in 50/50 Custody Support Cases

Missouri courts have significant discretion in determining child support for 50/50 custody arrangements. Judges may deviate from the Form 14 calculations if they believe it’s in the child’s best interest. Factors they might consider include:

  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs
  • The child’s standard of living before the divorce or separation
  • Any significant assets owned by either parent
  • Tax consequences for each parent

Modifications to Child Support in 50/50 Custody Cases

As with any child support order, parents with 50/50 custody can seek modifications if circumstances change. Grounds for modification may include:

  • Significant changes in either parent’s income
  • Changes in the child’s needs or expenses
  • Alterations to the custody schedule
  • Remarriage of either parent (if it significantly affects finances)

Advantages and Challenges of 50/50 Custody and Support

Advantages:

  • Can reduce overall child support payments
  • Promotes equal parental involvement
  • It may decrease conflict over financial matters

Challenges:

  • Requires careful budgeting and communication between parents
  • It can be complex to calculate and may require legal assistance
  • This may still result in support payments if incomes are disparate

Tips for Parents in 50/50 Custody Situations

  • Keep detailed records of expenses and time spent with the child.
  • Communicate openly with the other parent about financial matters.
  • Be prepared to provide documentation of income and expenses to the court.
  • Consider mediation to reach agreements on support and expense sharing.
  • Consult with a family law attorney to understand your rights and obligations.

Contact Us Today

50/50 custody arrangements in Missouri can significantly impact child support obligations, often reducing or eliminating payments when parents have similar incomes. However, the specific circumstances of each case, including income disparities and shared expenses, play a crucial role in determining support amounts. If you’re considering or currently in 50/50 custody arrangements, contact The Betz Law Firm to understand your rights, obligations, and options regarding child support.

At The Betz Law Firm, we specialize in helping parents navigate the complexities of custody and child support issues.

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