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How child support payments work when joint custody is involved

Arrangements for child support payments in Texas can become more complex if joint custody is part of the equation. But before custody agreements are discussed, decisions have to be made about legal and physical custody as well as parenting time. In every state except Kentucky, negotiations have to take place in order to achieve equal shared parenting that can serve as a starting point for custody. Without joint custody, the non-custodial parent won't be able to do things like make health care decisions for their child or even see their report card.

After custody arrangements are made, it's advised that child support be based on a fair level based on the circumstances, which means it shouldn't be an unfair burden to one parent. The general recommendation is that child support to not exceed more than $500 a month per parent. If parenting time is equal, there may be no need for child support at all. While state guidelines are based on a percentage of a parent's come, they don't necessarily take realistic earning and spending needs into consideration.

An increasingly common option for co-parents is to use what's termed a children's checkbook, referring to an account that both parents place funds into each month strictly for the purpose of covering child-rearing costs. It's important to note that there's no requirement that parents adhere to a state's recommended child support calculations. It's possible for both co-parents to negotiate between themselves to determine a fair amount.

If there are some disagreements over support payment arrangements, a family law attorney can act as a mediator. Once decisions have been made, a lawyer can prepare a pro-se motion to file a joint agreement. This is a document filed with the court and signed by a judge that serves as a binding agreement between co-parents. It's an important step to take so that legal protection is available if circumstances change.

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