Regardless of a parent’s marital status, the law requires that they care for their child. For married parents, the court expects this to happen naturally at home. For unmarried parents, this contribution becomes more complicated.

The court requires that unmarried parents contribute an equal percentage of their income to the child’s upbringing. This can occur in two different ways: child custody and child support. For some divorced or unmarried parents, their contribution involves both. For others, it is one or the other.

If you are facing child support or child custody negotiations, it is important to understand some basic information about them. It is also best to know how the two concepts are legally related.

Child Custody

Child custody is a primary way that parents can contribute to their child’s upbringing. There are several child custody arrangements that can occur:

  • Shared Custody: Both parents spend approximately equal amounts of time as the custodial parent.
  • Partial Custody: One parent has custody most of the time, but the other parent has some custody regularly.
  • Visitation: One parent has nearly all of the custody rights, but the other parent has the legal right to see and spend time with the child.
  • Full Custody: One parent has all of the custody rights; the other parent has no right to see or care for their child.

Shared custody often means that the custody portion of each parent’s contribution is equal. In all other setups, one parent is not contributing equally to the custody and therefore will likely have to pay child support.

Child Support

Child support payments may be used to make a parent’s contribution to their child more equitable. Because having custody of a child requires financial investment, child support allows both parents to have a financial investment in their child without both having custody.

Many people do not know that child support and child custody may both be appropriate in a co-parenting situation. This can occur even if the parents have equal or nearly equal custody. The court assesses a parent’s contribution as a percentage of their income. If one parent makes vastly more money than the other, their contribution percentage will be smaller even if they are paying equal amounts.

For example, Parent A makes $100,000 per year and Parent B makes $50,000 per year. Both spend approximately $20,000 per year caring for their child. Parent A spends approximately 20% of their income, while Parent B contributes approximately 40%. To even out the percentage of income that is spent on child rearing, Parent A may be asked to pay child support to Parent B. This can happen even if both parents have equal amounts of custody.

Going Through the Courts

Regardless of your situation, it is important that you go through the court system to determine child custody or child support agreements. Although you may believe that you can navigate the situation between yourself and your child’s other parent, it is not wise to do so.

When the court is involved, a judge will make sure that all agreements are fair. They will ensure that the child custody agreement is best for the child’s safety and happiness. To do this, they will assess each parent’s ability to contribute. If your situation warrants child support, the judge will determine who should pay and how much it should cost. This ensures equity and fairness.

When you go through the courts, you also have the advantage of enforceability. If your child’s other parent does not uphold their end of the agreement, fails to pay, or pays the wrong amount, the court can take action. If you develop an agreement on your own, the court cannot do anything if one or both of you fail to comply with your contract.


Q: Can a Father Have Full Custody?

A: Yes. A parent of any gender can have custody of their child. However, they must be able to properly care for the child and provide a safe and healthy home. If a father can do this, he should have access to custody. If a father can do this and the other parent cannot, then the father will likely get full custody.

Q: My Custody Agreement No Longer Works, What Do I Do?

A: The law understands that situations change, especially when kids are involved. If your custody agreement is outdated or your circumstances have changed, you can file for a child custody modification through the courts. During the modification process, the court will re-review your situation. They will then determine the terms of a new agreement, if one is appropriate.

Q: How Much Is Child Support?

A: Child support depends upon the income of both parents and their custody contributions. Therefore, all child support amounts are different based on the situation. If you wish to budget for child support, you should speak directly with a family lawyer from Stange Law Firm. We can help create an estimate that takes your personal factors into account. This can give you a more accurate idea of how much to expect.

Q: Do Kids Have a Say in Child Custody Agreements?

A: The court’s top priority is a child’s safety, and a judge will determine where a child will be safest. However, if both parents can provide proper care, and the child is old enough to make an informed decision, the court may ask for the child’s preference. The judge will not necessarily grant exactly what the child wants, but it may be a deciding factor if the situation calls for it.

Contact Stange Law Firm in Lincoln

Our team at Stange Law Firm is highly trained in a variety of divorce and family law issues. If you are negotiating child support or child custody agreements, you need an expert attorney’s help. Our team is here to represent you throughout your family law claim. We can give you the best possible outcome for your situation. No other law firm in the area can offer the same level of care and expertise as we can.

To learn more, please contact Stange Law Firm online.