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What Happens to Child Support When Parents Share Residential Time with the Kids?

Most people are familiar with the stereotypical “divorced dad schedule” for kids of divorce: every other weekend, and every Wednesday night for a couple hours. Times have changed. Nowadays, dads are often the primary parent. Even when they’re not the primary parent, dads are frequently receiving more time with their kids. There are families that have 50/50 residential schedules where kids are scheduled to spend equal amounts of time with each parent (or close to it). These schedules can be great for kids and parents, but they do lead to some interesting questions. One of the most frequently asked questions in these situations is: in a 50/50 residential schedule who pays child support?

This is a great question. Unfortunately, there isn’t always a certain answer. When kids spend a significant amount of time with the obligor parent (the one paying child support), a downward deviation may be requested. A deviation is an exception, or derogation from standard child support transfer amount (based on the Washington State Child Support Schedule). Deviations based on residential schedules are permitted under RCW 26.10.075(1)(d). That statute permits the court to deviate from the standard calculation if the children spend “a significant amount of time with the parent who is obligated to make a support transfer payment.” That paragraph continues, stating that this deviation may not be granted if the deviation will result in insufficient funds in the obligee’s home to meet the basic needs of the children.  RCW 26.19.075(1)(d).

If the court determines that a deviation should be granted, the statute requires that in determining the amount of the deviation, the court consider evidence regarding increased expenses to the obligor parent and the decreased expenses of the oblige parent created by the residential schedule. RCW 26.19.075(1)(d). As an obligor parent, you would want to show that you have to provide clothing, an extra bedroom, sports equipment, meals in and out of the home, etc. You’d also want to show the savings that the obligee has because of the schedule (usually the reverse of the additional expenses you will have).

If you have questions about how your untraditional residential schedule might affect your child’s support, you should speak with an attorney. We’d be honored if you chose to contact us.