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Joint child custody and support -- how does it work?

Parents usually understand how important it is to focus on their child's best interests during the divorce process. When deciding on child custody matters, data and research seems to support that most children benefit from joint custody situations. While this might vary based on unique family needs, many West Virginia families are now utilizing joint custody. However, this raises some understandable questions regarding child support. 

If a child's parents share joint custody, they may spend equal amounts of time physically caring for their child. This means that both parents are buying groceries, paying for housing and other daily costs associated with child-rearing. Does support really come into play in these situations? In the end, most likely. There are still those non-daily costs to consider, such as school fees and health care that one parent might end up unfairly shouldering more than the other.

Differing incomes can also create a significant disparity in lifestyles as the child moves back and forth between homes. While the higher earner will usually end up paying child support, some parents are opting for a different approach. A Children's Checkbook is an account in which both parents deposit an agreed upon amount at designated times. The funds in that account are then used for child-related costs. This arrangement may work best for parents who earn similar incomes, although virtually anyone with excellent co-parenting skills can likely utilize this approach. 

Child support is often ordered by the court and not necessarily up to individual parents regardless of the child custody situation. However, West Virginia parents who are unhappy with a current court order can petition for a modification. It may also be necessary to seek a modification after a sudden change in finances, such as a lost job or significant health care issue. 

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