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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 117401
Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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What would be the approximate amount of child support owed

Customer Question

What would be the approximate amount of child support owed to a mother be, given the following complicated scenario: On paper, the parents have joint/shared physical custody of two children, one is 11 and the other is 13. The divorce documents state the father agreed to pay the mother $600/mo in child support. In reality, the father has paid more than $600/mo consistently for the past six years they have been divorced, ranging from $800/mo to $1200/mo. The father has also always paid 100% of the medical insurance for both kids and has paid all of the childcare expenses in addition to most of the school and medical expenses. Each parent has claimed one child on their taxes every year and each parent claimed 1/2 of the childcare expenses on their taxes. The father has always maintained the majority of the physical custody and now has the kids 20 of 30 days per month. Mom has them 10/30 days. Father makes $80,000 gross, Mother makes $23,000 annually.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 8 years ago.
HiCustomer Thank you for asking your question on JustAnswer. The other Experts and I are working on your answer. By the way, it would help us to know:
-Could you explain your situation a little more?
-What state are you in?

Thank you again for trusting us with your problem. Please reply as soon as possible so that we can finish answering your question.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Washington state. Basically the parents havent' been doing what is acually on paper. They have joint custody on paper but the father has assumed most, and at times all, of the financial and parenting responsibilities since the divorce six years ago. The father now wants to reduce the amount of support he is paying her becasue he is engaged to someone new now who is questioning the "child support" payments and feels he has actually been paying a sort of alimony since the divorce. The couple just wants to know what he would legally be obligated to pay in child support - they don't intend to go to court over it, just want a baseline based on the history and current reality, not based on what the divorce papers say.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 8 years ago.
The court itself is supposed to take into consideration the amount of time the child is with each parent and they do this by calculating the average percentage of the time that the child is with each parent and the child support payment of the paying parent would be reduced by the percentage of time over 50-50 the child spends with them. Thus, if you have the child 75% of the time, then your amount you pay should be reduced by the 25%, since the court set the amount based upon joint/shared custody of 50-50.

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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you but that is information I already know and this is a complicated situation. Isn't there some way for a lawyer to tell us what would be the father's approximate legal obligation at this point without going through the whole process in court to change the parenting plan and child support agreement? For example, if the couple wanted to start all over and make a new parenting plan and child support agreement based on the reality of their situation, and do this with a lawyer vs. going to court, what would the approximate child support number be? And, would years of overpayment to the mother affect the new decision? My understanding was that lawyers have access to the same formula that the courts do, to figure child support obligations. Without that formula, I cannot figure out the amount owed regardless of percentages of time spent. Can you give me an approximate number based on the information I gave you?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 8 years ago.
There is not really a formula for this one, since the law just makes provision for the award based upon either the full custody or shared custody (which is presumed 50-50). Your combined monthly net income is roughly $7000. Thus, $946 per month would be the rough amount you would owe for the two children, which should be split in 1/2, so your $600 is fairly accurate, since I am using generalities and since the child is spending 2/3 of the time with you instead of 1/2, then this is an approximate reduction of the $600 by 17% or $102. which means that about $500 would be accurate. Of course, since the RCW leaves this calculation at the discretion of the courts on these matters, my calculation is only a rough estimate based upon RCW 26.19.020
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I'm sorry I guess this question just may not be answerable in this format, especially if there isn't a specific formula for joint custody arrangements. I imagine the amount he pays for health insurance for both kids ($660/mo currently) would be subtracted from the amount he owes but also, if each parent is responsible for paying half of the $946/mo, how is it determined who pays who? Wouldn't the mother be paying the father if he has the kids more than her and he pays the health insurance or at least wouldn't it be a wash? I do appreciate your time and understand if this is too complicated or just not a question that can be answered online... Can you tell me what information I am lacking, if I am so that we can gather all of the information needed and make an appointment with a family lawyer?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 8 years ago.
NO, insurance is something that is paid in addition to support, as is educational costs and medical expenses.

The payment generally goes to the parent with custody, but when you have a joint situation, the court generally orders the parent making the most money to pay the other parent when it is 50/50, but here it is a bit more complex than that. You need to bring all of your monthly financial records to determine the net income of you and her. Also, if she is made to pay, because her pay is roughly only 20% of the total mothly income, the amount she would pay is the 20% of the 946, while the father's amount is 80%. Again, as you have correctly stated, the calculation is a bit too complex to deal with in here.
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Hmm. The guidelines I looked at online adjusts the parent's gross income by subtracting any medical insurance paid and any alimony paid before applying the income to the child support table. Thanks for your attempts. I'm still unclear but one thing that has become clear, joint custody makes figuring child support a lot more complicated than primary custody! Thanks.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 8 years ago.
Insurance is deducted to get net income, but then is added on top of the support amount for the parent he pays the insurance.

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