A question often arises on the effect of joint custody on child support. The effect of joint custody will depend on the nature of the joint custody arrangement. If the parents have joint legal custody (by which they share making major decisions regarding the child), that by itself will have little effect on child support. If the parents have only joint legal custody, one parent still has primary custody of the child and handles payment of most of the child’s day-to-day expenses. The custodial parent’s expenses for the child have not been reduced by the joint custody arrangement.

If the parents have joint physical custody with the child spending a substantial amount of time with each of parent, and if the parents have approximately equal incomes, it is possible neither parent will have to pay support to the other. The father and mother will pay the child’s day-to-day expenses when the child is in the respective homes. The parents, however, will need to coordinate payments on major expenses such as camp, school, clothing, and insurance.

If there is a significant difference in the parents’ incomes, the parent with higher income probably will make payments to the other parent or pay more of the child’s expenses, but the amount paid probably will be less than the guideline amount because of the joint physical custody arrangement.