The Relationship Between Parenting Time and Child Support
54 Family Law Quarterly (2020 Forthcoming)
54 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 11, 2020
When child support guidelines were first being formulated in the U.S. it was assumed that fathers would see their children infrequently. Over the past few decades, nonresident fathers more frequently have exhibited a desire to have more substantial contact with their children. This has raised the issue of whether the amount of child support should be impacted by the level of contact with the obligor parent.
Many states have concluded that child support should presumptively be reduced if there is substantial contact between the obligor parent and the child. Various states have adopted different formulas to determine when support should be reduced as well as the magnitude of the reduction. In some states, support is not reduced until the obligor has very substantial contact with the child, while in others support begins to be reduced at lower levels of contact.
This article compares the various timesharing child support reduction formulas that have been adopted. We then compare the amount of child support that would be owed under the various formulas at different levels of access under the Illinois child support guidelines when the father has a monthly net income of $4000 and the net income of the mother is $3000.
Then we compare the amount that would be owed under 12 different timesharing formulas (based on the Illinois child support guidelines) when the obligor has possession 40% of all overnights. We also discuss various approaches currently being applied to determine the amount of child support that should be paid when there is equal physical custody. We show the support amount that would be due under the 12 formulas when the parents have equal income and compare the amount that would be owed under each formula if the father’s net monthly income is $1000 more than the mother’s income.
We survey how courts have calculated child support when the lesser-time parent has a lower income than the greater-time parent.
Finally, we highlight the various policy choices that must be made in connection with the formulation of a child support adjustment approach for parenting time.
Keywords: custody, access, joint custody, equal physical custody, father’s rights, child support, maintenance, parenting-time support adjustment, timesharing support adjustment, shared-care support adjustment
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