In all states, it is the “best interests” of the children which determines the parenting plan, however obscurely the statutory and case law describe this.
Parents must be careful that they are really concerned with their children’s best interests, rather than with less wholesome issues, such as power and control. Too many times I have seen parents try to “Get even, get the kids!” And, although “parental alienation” as a syndrome has fallen out of psychological favor, parental alienation and other psychological abuse is very real and very destructive to children.
I represent as many men, as women, in family law matters, and I advocate passionately for both.
How parenting affects child support is a dialectic between two different theories in family law.
The test for custody or residential responsibility is what’s in the best interests of the children; what’s essential for their health, safety, and welfare.
The test for child support is the needs of the children balanced against the needs of the non-custodial parent to satisfy those needs. By and large, the custodial parent is considered to be contributing to the children’s needs by physically taking care of them. The courts try to determine this amount by formulas now, but each situation is truly unique and zealous and creative advocacy can make a great difference here.
In other words, you could have a wealthy, generous parent who shouldn’t be allowed within 10 miles of the children.
You could also have a dead beat parent who is wonderful with the children.
The old adage “If you don’t pay, you don’t play,” has no validity in family law.