Could You Have 50/50 Parenting Time and Still Pay Child Support?

There is a common misconception that if parents share 50/50 parenting time, that neither would be obliged to pay child support. However, this is not always the case. The purpose of child support is to ensure the child receives approximately equal financial support from their parents, and that must approach what the child would have received if both parents were still together and raised the child under the same roof.

The Circumstances Considered

When determining child support, parenting time is one of the factors considered. However, it is not the only factor. Other factors in determining the child support award include:

  • The income of each parent;
  • Extra childcare costs that one parent might encounter versus the other;
  • Insurance, including health, dental, and vision;
  • Whether either parent has a child not shared with the other parent.

Therefore, it is still likely that one parent will pay child support even in an equal time situation especially where one parent earns substantially more income than the other.  In other words, Arizona child support is intended to work such that if the parents share equal parenting time and earn roughly equal income, then no monthly child support will be exchanged between them.  The bigger the difference between the parents with respect to income or parenting time, the larger a child support payment might be.

Also, parents may be able to negotiate during their divorce a higher or lower amount of child support, known as a deviation. The court will have to approve the negotiated deviation, and both parties must be able to show that the deviation is in the child’s best interest.

The Minimal Need for Child Support

If both parties agree to share all costs equally, including the cost of medical expenses, health insurance, and travel time, then they may not have a legal obligation to pay child support.

A 50/50 division of parenting time often results in a nonexistent need for child support obligations, but that is not always the case.

If one parent earns a significant amount more than the other parent, then that parent is likely going to pay child support to the other parent regardless of how equally the time is split. This is because the courts want the child to receive not only equal parenting time but the same financial support that maintains the support they would have if their parents had not separated. This is sometimes explained with the adage that you don’t want the child “eating filet mignon in one house and bologna in the other.”

Also, if one spouse must pay for daycare while the other spouse does not, then the need and costs associated with that daycare expense will be passed on through child support.

Bottom line, numerous factors play a role in determining child support; not just parenting time. Connect with a family law attorney at Udall Shumway, PLC to see if your case qualifies for child support and if your 50/50 custody will affect it.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding 50/50 Parenting Time, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.