Do I have to pay child support if I don’t have custody or get to see my child? This is a common question I hear and the answer is “yes”; child support, child custody and timeshare are different issues. So long as a parent retains parental rights, it does not matter whether they have sole custody, joint custody or no custody – child support will be awarded. Parental rights exist for any biological parent or any parent of a child born to them in marriage whether or not biological. These “rights” exist as a matter of course and no action has to occur to create them. They also arise when an adoption occurs. Custody, however, refers to a parent’s exercise of authority. I know, this does not make sense because the common meaning of the word “custody” is to have in one’s possession, care or control. Well, in family law in Kentucky, “custody” focuses on that last item: control (or authority). So, even if a parent has no authority to make decisions for their child, they still have other rights and responsibilities. One of those rights is the right to spend time with their child. One of the responsibilities is to provide financially for their child. These are separate and apart from one another so that even if you do not see your child, you are still responsible to provide financially.
Also, so long as a parent retains parental rights, they also will have a right to timeshare. This right can only be restricted if it is proven that a parent’s contact creates a harm to the child’s well-being. In most situations where parents are not together, one parent may have the child most of the time, least of the time, or roughly equal time with the other parent. Except in roughly equal timeshare, the parent with the child most of the time will receive child support even if they earn more money. In roughly equal timeshare situations this changes and the parent making the least money will receive child support and most courts modify it in various manners.
There is no statute directing how child support gets modified in even timeshare. Some judges use a “Colorado” formula that involves a multiplier (usually 1.5) of the regular statutory support amount to reflect the fact that each home has to provide extra expenses when the child stays there half the time. This multiplier could go as high as 2x in situations where the homes are very far away and each home has to provide exactly the same clothing, furniture, toys, books, and other living expenses as the other home because it is too cumbersome to take items back and forth between the homes. Other judges simply take the support given in statute for traditional timeshare situations and cut it in half. And, some judges do more of a best guesstimate process. In any situation, though, child support will be award because it is an innate responsibility for a parent to provide financially for their child.