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WonderingFiance

Paying child support when there is joint custody?

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My fiance has a three-year-old son with his ex-girlfriend. They've been broken up since the child was six months old. They never went to court but mutually came to an agreement, which they notarized, that he would pay her $500 a month for child support, and they will split all the schooling expenses and extra medical bills. They have since verbally modified the agreement - he had to put his son on his insurance, so they lowered the amount to $400 a month.

 

The reason I am questioning their arrangement is because they share custody 50-50. I was under the impression that you don't pay child support if you have joint custody. I asked him about it and he said he knows a few guys at work (he's a firefighter) in similar situations, and they all have to pay much more than $400 a month. He says it's based on the mother's income and the courts always side with the mother.

 

It just doesn't seem fair to me that he works full-time, pays her $400 a month, AND has his son half the time, while she just has her son half the time and works an odd job here and there - under the table because she is trying to avoid having to pay back her massive student loan debt and therefore can't/won't get an on-the-books job.

 

However, since my fiance is a firefighter, his work schedule is such that it could be difficult for her to get a regular job - he works for a 24-hour shift and then is off for 48 hours, and his workdays are always rotating. It could be hard to get a regular job if the days you are able to work are always changing. I get that. But once the child is in school (preschool in September), there is no reason why she can't get a job, at least part time.

 

So I guess my questions are:

 

1 - Should he really be paying child support when he has the child half the time (sometimes even more)?

2 - Does the fact that there is a notarized agreement mean that he is "stuck" in this arrangement? Does it mean that she is stuck as well?

3 - Does her working under the table mean that if we went to court it would look like she has ZERO income?

 

Any insight into this situation would be greatly appreciated. 

 

We live in Louisiana.

 

Thanks!

 

 

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The reason I am questioning their arrangement is because they share custody 50-50. I was under the impression that you don't pay child support if you have joint custody.

 

Can't imagine where you got that idea.  First of all, it's not clear what "share custody 50-50" and "joint custody" mean.  There are two types of custody:  legal custody and physical custody.  Physical custody concerns where the child lives; legal custody concerns decisions regarding the child's education, medical care, religion, etc.  Only physical custody is relevant to child support.  It's a rather rare to have an exact 50/50 time split, but even if we assume that, let's pretend your fiance makes $20k per month (nearly $250k per year) and that the mother only earns $20k per year.  Of course the father will pay support because of the disaparity in their incomes.  Even if the disparity between your fiance's income and that of his child's mother isn't nearly as great as that, he would still pay, and $400-500 per month is rather low.

 

 

 

He says it's based on the mother's income and the courts always side with the mother.

 

It's also based on his income, and the bit about courts "aways sid[ing] with the mother" is nonsense.  You can google "louisiana child support calculator" and run the numbers to get an idea what what a court might award in the event one of the parents files with the court.

 

 

 

Should he really be paying child support when he has the child half the time (sometimes even more)?

 

Yes.

 

 

 

Does the fact that there is a notarized agreement mean that he is "stuck" in this arrangement? Does it mean that she is stuck as well?

 

No.  The agreement that you described is legally meaningless because it wasn't adopted by the court.  Based only on the facts in your post, your fiance has no enforceable legal rights or obligations regarding the child.  It's not even clear from your post whether paternity was ever established.  It's possible that a court might adopt their existing agreement, but if either of them wants an enforceable arrangement, they will need to file with the court for appropriate orders regarding custody, visitation, and support.

 

 

 

Does her working under the table mean that if we went to court it would look like she has ZERO income?

 

How it "would look" depends on what evidence is presented to the court.  Just because, according to you, the mother works "under the table" (which simply means no proper tax reporting, and I have to wonder how you are privy to this woman's tax records) doesn't mean she'll commit perjury by lying to the court.  If she claims zero income and your fiance claims that's not true, then he'll have the burden of disproving what she claims and proving what he claims.

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Hi WonderingFiance,

 

Welcome the forum!  As pg1067 has indicated, child support is based upon a number of factors, one of which is the income of both parents.  The issue of a child custody is a separate matter.  With regard to their information child support agreement, your fiance certainly has the right to petition for a formal child support order.  However, bear in mind that the court may order payment of child support that could be less but also more than what is he paying now.  If you have additional questions regarding this issue, you may want to consult with a local family law attorney.  An family law attorney in your area can be found in the FindLaw directory.

 

The following FindLaw articles may also be helpful:

Thanks for stopping by,

 

The FindLaw.com Team

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