The answer is unique to each family. Child support is comprised of two general categories. A monthly support transfer payment to help meet the basic needs of the child in the other parent’s home, and direct expense sharing for categories of expenses as they arise, such as health insurance and co-pays, agreed extracurricular activities.
The basic support transfer payment is calculated pursuant to a state mandated schedule, based upon the net incomes of the parents. The payment flows to the parent who has the care of the children the majority of the time. The presumption is that this parent bears the larger burden for basics – Clothing, meals, hygiene items, babysitting, school supplies, gifts for birthday parties, allowances, etc. – as these expenses typically occur more frequently where the child spends the majority of their time. As parents share care of their child on a more equal schedule, they are also sharing responsibility for and covering their child’s basic needs more equally. Because the child’s basic needs occur in both homes the parents may discuss whether a deviation from the transfer payment calculated based upon their family income is appropriate in their circumstances and does not result in insufficient basic support for their child in either home. A deviation is always discretionary, never mandatory.
While there is no mandatory deviation, one formula, a “residential credit”, considers the number of overnights the child is residing with the paying parent and where those overnights exceed 91, the formula calculates a gradual reduction in the basic support transfer payment. Discretionary, not mandatory. Sometimes parents might try to compare direct basic costs and create a deviation using this data. In considering whether a reduction in the basic support transfer payment impacts the child in the home receiving the transfer payment there are many ways in which a child may be impacted. Each family is unique.
With expense sharing, both parents directly contribute to significant expenses, often with one parent reimbursing the other for a share. These expenses increase the child’s wellbeing through enrichment activities, educational opportunities, medical care, technology access, testing, etc.
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