Shared Custody and Child Support

by Diana S. Velez Harris on Jun. 08, 2020

Divorce & Family Law Divorce & Family Law  Child Custody Divorce & Family Law  Child Support 

Summary: Financial Obligations with Shared Custody.

Do you have to pay child support when you have shared physical custody and shared parenting time?

The answer, as is usually the case with most legal questions, is, it depends.  The first issue is whether you are referencing shared legal custody versus shared physical custody.  Shared legal custody has zero impact on child support; so, absent special circumstances, the Court will make an appropriate child support order in line with the MA child support guidelines.  

With respect to shared physical custody, the answer remains, it depends.  The MA child support guidelines have recently been reformulated to calculate the appropriate child support, if any, when parents share parenting time equally.  In MA, the child support guidelines are presumed to be correct, in that Judge's must make specific findings if they wish to Order something other than what the guidelines dictate.  So, the easy answer is that yes, you may still have to pay child support even if you have shared physical custody, if the guideline calculation results in that finding. 

That being said, most Probate & Family Court Judges are hesitant to overrule an agreement reached by both parents that appropriately considers and provides for the needs of any child; even if that agreement ignores what the child support guidelines dictate.  Of most importance is whether the Agreement is fair and reasonable, equitable under the circumstances, and includes appropriate provisions for the child and the child's needs.  There are multiple ways to accomplish this, outside of the standard child support provision - such as one party paying the majority of the child related expenses (sports, equipment, extracurricular activities, clothing, school supplies, field trips, summer camps, etc.). 

It is best to speak to an experienced Family Law Attorney in this regard to fully understand what your rights are relative to child support.

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