Almost every divorcing parent can expect to make arrangements that deal with their minor children. If you don't, the family courts will, and it might be better to make these decisions yourself. Your first step will be to decide who will be the primary custodian of the child, since that affects child support. Read on to learn more about the financial aspects of child custody and support.

You can choose from at least two child custody models

There are more than two, but these two are used more often than, say, nesting.

Shared custody: This is where the care and responsibility of the parenting are divided up roughly by 50%. The father might have the child every other weeknight and one weekend day, and the mom would do the same. With this particular form of custody, the awarding of child support is not always a given. Both parents are supposedly contributing to the care and feeding of the child in equal amounts, so child support may not be necessary. That does not mean, however, that it is never ordered with shared custody. Child support is not just based on the type of custody but on the income of the parents.

Joint custody: It's safe to say that this is the form of custody most people think about when they do consider custody. Here, the child primarily resides with one parent or the other, and the other parent is awarded visitation. Visitation can be flexible, but parents may like to have set times. Regardless of visitation, however, is the need for child support. In joint custody, child support is only rarely not used. If both parents are matched in income and they agree to be responsible for the child's expenses, it may not be necessary.

How much is owed?

Each divorce case is unique, and the amount ordered to be paid can vary widely. Federal guidelines regulate child support to the extent that deadbeat parents are prosecuted regardless of crossing state lines, but the amount of child support is based on the median income of the individual state. In general, the parent who makes the most money is ordered to pay, but in some cases both parents are charged with making a contribution using child support. If you are curious about how much will be owed in your own case, you can input your figures into a child support calculator to get a general idea of what to expect.

To get more accurate and complete information about this issue, speak to your divorce attorney, or check out websites like