Child Support and Shared Custody
How much child support does a parent have to pay when they have their children living with them at least half of the time?
Joint parenting arrangements in which children spend half of their time with one parent and half of their time with the other parent are increasingly common in today’s society. This definitely affects the amount of child support that a parent must pay to the other parent.
Section 9 of the Child Support Guidelines specifically deals with the payment of child support in a joint parenting arrangements:
Where a spouse exercises a right of access to, or has physical custody of, a child for not less than 40 per cent of the time over the course of a year, the amount of the child support order must be determined by taking into account
- the amounts set out in the applicable child support tables for each of the spouses;
- the increased costs of shared custody arrangements; and
- the conditions, means, needs and other circumstances of each spouse and of any child for whom support is sought.
Section 9 requires a two-part determination: first, establishing that the 40 per cent threshold has been met; and second, where it has been met, determining the appropriate amount of child support.
Does A Parent Have Physical Custody Of A Child For 40 Per Cent Of The Time Or More During The Course Of A Year?
A parent will often want to reduce the amount of child support that they have to pay for child support when they have physical custody of the child for a significant amount of time during the course of a year.
Section 9 of the Child Support Guidelines requires a parent to have physical custody of the child for 40 per cent of the time or more during the course of a year. How does a parent figure out whether they have a child living with them for 40 per cent of the time or more? Proof of 40 per cent physical custody lies on the parent who is paying child support to the other parent. Generally, a parent should count days as opposed to hours to determine whether they have physical custody of the child for 40 per cent of the time or more.
The actual calculation of the amount of time that a parent had physical custody of her son in a recent case provides helpful guidance for parents in determining the 40 per cent threshold question.
The son’s summer vacation period lasted for nine weeks. The parents split each week with their son during the summer vacation period so that the mother’s share of physical custody for the summer was four and a half weeks. The mother had the son for one week during the two-week Christmas vacation and half the week during the March break.
During a 20-week period, the mother had physical custody of her son from Friday after school until 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. on Monday when school started. The mother had the son for approximately 65 ½ hours during these weeks. The trial judge credited the mother with three days of physical custody of the son although the total number of hours was slightly less than 72 hours.
During the other 20-week period, the mother had physical custody of her son from after school on Friday until Saturday at 4:00 p.m. The trial judge credited the mother with one day of physical custody of her son during these weeks.
The mother had physical custody of her son on Tuesday of every week from after school until she returned her son to school the next morning during a 40-week period. The trial judge credited the mother with one full day although the actual 17 ½ hours was less than 24 hours.
In summary, the mother had physical custody of her son for these number of days:
Summer, Christmas and March Break:
Long weekends at 3 days:
Short weekends at 1 day:
Tuesdays at 1 day:
The mother had physical custody of her son for 162 days a year.
The trial judge concluded that the mother had physical custody of her son for over 44 per cent of the time during the course of the year so that the mother satisfied the 40 per cent threshold test.
The next question is the calculation of the actual amount of child support payable in shared custody arrangements. I will discuss that important issue in another video and blog post.
Make sure you spend some time with your family lawyer discussing this important issue in your separation or divorce.
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