Figuring out fair support when parents have joint custody

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Wisconsin parents who are negotiating custody or placement will also need to figure out child support payments. The process to figure both of these important aspects of life after divorce is complex and can become even more so if animosity arises. In fact, some experts believe that child support payments should not even exist when parents equally split custody since support exists to cover a child’s needs not to equalize income or lifestyle.

Placement and support are separate family law matters. Before support can be negotiated, parents need to figure out placement. For both parents to have equal rights to the medical, religious and educational decisions, they need to go agree to joint legal custody. Without this, the non-custodial parent loses their right to take their injured child to an ER, to attend parent-teacher conferences or request report cards. After this has been established, the parents then need to focus on physical custody, which should generally be shared in a 50-50 split by both parents.

Shared legal and physical custody makes sense in the modern world since most mothers and fathers work. In the past 40 years, the norm was to award placement to the mother with fathers receiving visitation every other weekend. The reasoning was because it was understood mothers did not work outside the home.

Amicable negotiations can be less costly than a long, drawn-out court battle for placement and support. Even in amicable situations, however, parents can benefit from legal representation. A lawyer can provide guidance throughout the separation process.