When parents divorce, there are often two big concerns: child support and child custody. However, one way that some parents believe that they can avoid both issues is evenly splitting custody. The idea is that if they split custody evenly, neither parent will pay child support and both parents will have equal time with their child.
There just is not enough information to answer this question in New Jersey based on just child custody alone. In our state, child support is determined by many factors, only one of which is parenting time.
Child support is a shared responsibility of both parents, and it is not automatically waived or reduced based on parenting time. Indeed, the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines seek to ensure that the children have the same level of economic support when their parents are separated as when their parents were together.
How is child support calculated then?
The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines formula is based on both parent’s net income and each parent’s percentage of parenting time. Then, the formula factors in expenses, special needs and the age of the child. Whatever number the formula determines to be correct is presumed to be the appropriate amount. However, either parent can argue (with evidence) that the amount is unfair or inappropriate, and the judge still has the discretion to deviate from that formula-derived child support amount.
What are some reasons for deviation?
If both parents agree on child support, and put that agreement in writing, the judge can agree to that amount. If the child has their own assets and/or income, those can be used to mitigate the need for child support.
If one or both parents already have familial legal support obligations, this can lessen subsequent support obligations. Any joint physical custody arraignments and significant duplication of expenses can also reduce child support obligations.
New Jersey really does take a case-by-case approach. As such, yes, it is possible for evenly split custody arraignments to have not child support obligations, but it is also possible for there to be child support obligations in that same custody arraignment as well. Conversely, some parents who have uneven custody arraignments may not have child support pay or receive child support either.