Why do I have to pay child support if I have 50/50 custody?

Some people believe that an even split of custody automatically results in an order that neither party pay child support.  That is not necessarily true.  Child support is still based upon a calculation that is called a Form 14, and typically the higher earner will still be obligated to pay support.

The State recently adopted new child support guidelines that change a few key things.  For one, visitation credits can be higher under the new guidelines.  However, the ceiling is still 34% in most cases.  The Court has discretion to go up to a 50% visitation credit but will typically only do so when the incomes earned by the parties are very similar.

The Form 14 also includes credits for certain expenses that are paid by one party.  For example, child care expenses will often be included on the Form 14.  The expense for child care will still be split pursuant to the percentage of total income that both parties earn.  It is just done so automatically by the Form 14 calculation.  Another common example is the health insurance costs for the child.  The party providing the health insurance receives a credit on the Form 14 such that the cost is split between the parties in accordance with income.

Cases in which a 50/50 custody arrangement automatically result in a zero child support amount are extremely rare and only occur in cases in which income amounts are close to equal and expenses credited on the form even out in accordance with income.