Shared Custody and Child Support: The 40% Rule

Child support can be affected by the amount of time a child spends with each parent. In a shared custody situation where children are with both parents more than 40% of the time the child support amount is often reduced.

To determine the amount, first establish how much you would pay according to the Child Support Guidelines if the children were residing primarily with your spouse. Then determine the amount of child support your spouse would have to pay you if the children were primarily residing with you. When one amount is set off against the other, the amount remaining is usually the amount of support to be paid.

I say “usually” because judges hold a lot of discretion when determining child support in shared custody situations. Some judges will add a little something to the set off amount, some will use the exact set off amount and some will only reduce the amount slightly even if you care for the children more than 40% of the time. It largely depends on the judge and your situation.

To determine whether you or your spouse meets the 40% threshold, most judges just count the regular nights the children spend with each of you. For example, if the children are with you 6 out of 14 nights, they are with you 43% of the time and you have met the threshold.

As a result, negotiating a settlement of the amount of child support in shared custody situations is best handled with legal advice from a divorce lawyer, and we’re here to help you get it resolved. By using the Collaborative Process, you and your spouse can negotiate an amount that works for both of you.

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