50/50 Possession of Your Children Does Not Negate Child Support
Many, many divorcing parents misunderstand the role that child support will play in their post-divorce lives. The biggest misunderstanding is that newly divorced parents tend to think that if they have their children half of the time, they are under no obligation to pay child support. This is not the case – and has little to do with how the courts calculate child support in the State of Texas.
In all but the direst situations, children are universally considered better served by having a close, loving relationship with both parents. If you can work out a 50/50 possession order with your divorcing spouse, more power to you. You and your soon-to-be-ex want what is best for your shared children, and such a possession schedule is a laudable goal. The court bases all related decisions on the best interests of the children involved. It will almost certainly accept this schedule arrangement. This does not, however, mean that the court will take the matter of child support off the table – even though you will both be contributing an equal amount of time to raising your children post-divorce.
Child Support Calculations
Texas Family Code does not directly address the issue of equal possession and child support. Instead, the calculation process follows the same one used for standard possession orders. One parent is the primary custodial parent, and the other has a visitation schedule. The most crucial factor to consider is that the court has significant discretion in the matter and will decide based on the unique circumstances at hand.
Each Parent's Financial Burden
When both parents earn the same amount of money and split possession of their children equally, child support may not be an issue, but this is rarely the case. It is far more common for one parent to make substantially more than the other, and this is where legal concerns arise.
The parent who earns significantly less is likely to experience all of the following:
The lower earner will not be able to provide for the children in the same way that the higher earner can.
The lower earner is likely to reside in a smaller home in a less-safe neighborhood with less-desirable schools.
Without child support, the lower earner may not be capable of providing the children with a safe, sanitary home; adequate nutrition and clothing; and all necessary health care.
In other words, the lower-earning parent is at a significant disadvantage that directly affects the shared children. The court will take this fact into careful consideration when making its child support determination.