A question which tends to come up is: how does child support work when each parent has one of the children?
Logic would dictate that neither parent pays child support to the other. However, that is not always the case. What actually happens is that the child support responsibility is calculated on both sides, and then we see if the numbers balance.
Let’s look at a couple of examples to see how this actually works.
Example #1: 2 Children. Mom and Dad each take one, and both parents earn $50,000 a year. The child support obligation is not 25 percent, but 17 % for each parent to each child. So, Dad’s obligation to Mom is $8,500 and Mom’s obligation to Dad is $8,500. The numbers balance. No money chances hands.
Exampe #2: 2 Children. Mom and Dad each take one, but Dad makes $75,000 and Mom makes $50,000. Dad’s obligation is $12,750 to Mom and Mom’s is $8,750 to Dad. Dad should pay $4,000 back to Mom. Now, Dad’s lawyer can try to claim that since Dad has custody of one child, he should get a credit. There is support for that position. But, I’ve seen courts not give credit as well.
Frequently, in agreements where the children are split, the parties agree that no money should change hands. However, the court will not accept such an agreement unless the numbers balance. I had a case where Dad was getting two children and Mom was getting one. Mom made more money than Dad. In order to arrange a “no-pay” deal, we worked out a series of “add-ons”. Basically, we said that Mom is paying additional out-of-pocket costs relating to child care, and that should result in no money changing hands.
There was a recent Family Court decision where this issue came up. In a decision published on March 30, 2009 in the Law Journal, Family Court Judge Hanuszcak, Onondaga County, denied a Father’s request for support. Mother originally had both boys. Custody of the youngest was changed to the Father. Mother made $164,000 a year, and due to the economic downturn, Father was only making $32,000 down from $95,000. The court denied his motion to compute child support for an amount below $32,000. The court further denied his motion for child support from the mother. The monthly child support on $165,000 should have been $2323.23 a month. With Father’s child support obligation of $453.33, the offset would have been $1869.90. However, the court stated that because the Mother (1) purchased a car for the child; (2) paid for the gas; (3) paid for the auto insurance (4) paid for the child’s cell phone; and (5) provided medical coverage, the Father was not entitled to child support.