Will the Court Reduce My Child Support Payment Based on How Much Time I Spend with My Kids?

Question

My ex and I have two kids together.  We’re not divorced yet, but we’ve been separated for several months. Since we split up, we’ve been able to work out a schedule where the kids live half of the time with me, and half of the time with my ex.  We have recently decided to move forward with a formal divorce, and my ex mentioned that we’re also going to have to figure out how much child support is going to be. However, I have heard that when you have a 50/50 parenting plan, there is no child support payment between the parents.  Is this true?

Answer

In some cases, the court will reduce or even eliminate a parent’s child support obligation based on the amount of time that the children spend with that parent.  However, the right to such a deduction (legally referred to as a “deviation”) is not absolute.

Washington statute RCW 26.19.075(d) sets out the standard for a deviation based on the residential schedule.

To summarize, a parent who wants the court to reduce their child support payment due to the residential schedule has to prove three things: (1) that a support reduction won’t cause a financial hardship in the child’s other residence; (2) that the parent seeking the reduction has increased costs due to the amount of time spent with the child; and (3) that the other parent’s expenses are decreased due to the amount of time the child spends with the parent who is seeking the deduction.

In other words, simply having a 50/50 schedule does not guarantee that a parent won’t have to pay child support to the other parent.  You should consider consulting with an experienced family law attorney about the specific facts of your case in order to determine whether you might be entitled to a deviation.

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