Kansas Equal Parenting Time and Child Support
Often at issue in a divorce or parentage case or in any child custody matter is the amount of parenting time either party will exercise with the child or children. As discussed throughout this site, every case is different. As such, not all parenting plans are the same. Some cases require an unequal share of parenting time for valid reasons and the children’s best interests. Other cases are more readily solvable with an order of equal parenting time to each party. This is also called shared residency or shared parenting. Essentially, this means the child or children are with one parent 50% of the time, and the other parent 50% of the time. An equal parenting time schedule is just like any other parenting time schedule in that there is no one way to arrange it. The most common equal parenting time schedule is what we commonly refer to as a 2-2-3 or a 2-5. This gives each parent two days during the week and three days of alternating weekend parenting time. For example, on parent exercises Monday and Tuesday, and the other parent exercises Wednesday and Thursday each week with the parties alternating the exercise of weekend parenting time from Friday through Monday morning. This is a 2-5 and a true 50/50 split. This schedule also gives each parent 5 days in a row, every other week. The parties can also choose to alternate their weekday overnights each week, which is called a 2-2-3. Same example as above only the parents switch weekdays every other week. For example, in Week 1 parent A has Monday and Tuesday and parent B has Wednesday and Thursday, in week 2 parent A has Wednesday Thursday and parent B has Monday and Tuesday. With the parties alternating weekends under this schedule the longest either party goes with or without the children is only 3 days in a row. Under a 2-5 in the previous example, each party has a stretch of five days in a row with or without the children, based on whoever is exercising alternating weekend parenting time. In other cases, a 50/50 parenting time schedule could be a week on week off schedule. In this scenario the parties simply exchange the child or children on the same day or night at the same time each week – Sunday at 7:00 to Sunday at 7:00 p.m. This type of 50/50 typically works better for older children, but in the right situation may work for your family. The best way to decide is to look at the reality of the situation with respect to the parents’ work schedules and the children’s school and activities schedules. For example, it doesn’t make sense to do a 2-2-3 if one of the parent’s work schedules always requires the overnight shift every Wednesday and Thursday. In this situation, a 2-5 would be best, which would enable that parent to exercise parenting time on Mondays and Tuesdays when they know they will not be working the overnight shifts. Further, a week on week off parenting time schedule may not work best for parties with younger children who would benefit from more frequent contact with their children as opposed to longer periods of time with and away from the children.
Equal Parenting Time Formula for Child SupportParties who can agree to exercise equal parenting time have basically two options to calculate and determine child support. First, is the use of the equal parenting time formula. This is a manner by which the child support worksheet will determine child support so long as the parties are exercising a true 50/50 parenting time schedule. This significantly reduces what would otherwise be a child support order calculated without using the equal parenting time formula. In a nutshell, it can reduce an otherwise standard child support order by up to half in many cases.
Shared Expense PlanIf the parties have agreed to equal parenting time, they can also agree to use the shared expense plan formula in combination with a detailed shared expense plan. This means the parties agree to share equally in all the children’s expenses and to issue a shared expense plan worksheet, which typically produces a nominal child support amount, only significant enough to share the parents’ financial responsibility based on their incomes. A shared expense plan must be detailed and must be approved by the court prior to that becoming a final order.
Parenting Time AdjustmentsFor parties who exercise close to equal parenting time, there are parenting time adjustments available. For example, a party who exercises between 30% and 35% of a child or children’s available parenting time, that party may receive a 10% adjustment to their child support amount. A party who exercises between 40% and 45% of a child or children’s available parenting time, is eligible for an adjustment of up to 20%. Finally, a party who exercises between 45% and 49% of a child’s available parenting time that party may be eligible for up to a 30% adjustment to their child support obligation. All parenting time adjustments are discretionary with the court, and based on the specific set of facts and circumstance in each case. Contact the team at Fairbanks DeMarco to learn more about whether equal parenting time, the equal parenting time formula, a shared expense plan or a parenting time adjustment best fits the circumstances of your case.
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