Equal Time & No Child Support?

   Posted by: Margo Fox   in Collaborative Law, Divorce

Sometimes a client will come in thinking that if they have equal time he/she will not have to pay child support.   See below for the answer to the following question.

Question:  Do I still have to pay child support with a 50/50 possession schedule?

Answer:  It depends (most lawyers really don’t like saying that–but it’s the truth).

When parents have possession of a child for an equal amount of time such as a 50/50 possession schedule (example: week on week off, 2-2-2-5, or 2-2-3), the parties can agree or the court can calculate what each party would pay the other in child support and take the difference for an offset, awarding child support to the parent with the lower income; however, this method is most commonly used when parties reach an agreement to do an offset.

Example (2 children):

Parent              Gross Monthly Income           Guideline Child Support in Texas

Father              $6,000.00                                $1,147.15 per month

Mother            $7,500.00                                $1,399.71 per month

$1,399.71 (Mother’s CS Obligation)

- $1,147.15 (Father’s CS Obligation)

$252.56 per month – Difference to be paid by Mother to Father

You may be thinking, “Why is there any child support awarded to one parent at all since they both have equal time with the child?”  In the above example, there is a disparity in income of the parents.  While this might not always seem fair [fair = a 4-letter word in family law] to the person who has to pay child support, it does offset the incomes.  However, there are some cases where the parties do not pay each other any child support, but these are typically uncontested cases where the parties specifically agree to the same.  In contrast and in a contested case, it is important to understand that Courts can, and do at times, order one parent to pay the full amount of guideline child support to the other parent even when the Court determines that it is in the best interest of the children for the parents to exercise a 50/50 possession schedule. Furthermore, Texas Family Code § 154.123 allows the Court, at its discretion, to order child support payments in an amount other than that established by the guidelines if evidence rebuts the presumption that application of the guidelines is in the best interest of the child and justifies a variance from the guidelines.


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