Do child support and custody always go hand-in-hand?

Perhaps you’re preparing to file for divorce in a Michigan court. You may have already discussed the issue with your children and extended family members. Now, you’re ready to get down to business to work out details for a fair settlement, so that you and your spouse can peacefully part ways and move on in life. As a parent, you must resolve various child custody issues, which may or may not include child support.

You might think that child support will not be a relevant issue in your divorce if you and your ex have a joint custody agreement. However, that’s not necessarily true. While each state has its own child custody and child support guidelines, a family court judge has full discretion to deviate from the state’s recommendations, if he or she determines that some other arrangement would better serve children’s best interests.

Child support is meant to provide for your children’s needs

The court always has children’s best interests in mind when making decisions regarding child custody or child support in a divorce. In most cases, the court agrees that joint physical custody is best for kids because it enables them to have ample opportunity to spend time with both of their parents.

If you agree to share physical custody of your children with your ex, the court will review details about each parent’s income and potential earning status. The judge overseeing your case will determine whether your children’s financial needs can be met in each household without the other parent paying child support. If there’s a need, the court may order one or the other parent to provide financial supplements even though both parents are sharing physical custody.

How child support works when there’s a non-custodial parent in a divorce

You and you ex might share legal custody (which refers to the authority to make decisions on behalf of your children regarding health, education and other issues) while you have sole physical custody. In that case, your ex may have visitation privileges. In arrangements like this, the court typically orders the non-custodial parent to pay child support.

Each case is reviewed by its own merits

There’s no cut-and-dry answer as to whether child custody and child support issues always intersect in a Michigan divorce. They do so inasmuch as the court reviews both issues in every divorce that includes children and determines whether child support payments are necessary to provide for their financial needs.

In some cases, the answer might be, “Yes,” while, in others, neither parent is ordered to pay child support. Regardless whether you and your ex share physical custody or one of you is a non-custodial parent, the court will review your income and other factors of consideration to determine what type of financial agreement would best provide for your children’s needs.