A long standing problem for matrimonial attorneys has been the calculation of child support in situations in which two parents have equal physical custody of children. The Court Rules tell us that when the combined net income of the two parents is $187,200 or below, the Guidelines must be utilized as a rebuttable presumption for child support. Practice tells us that the Guidelines are rarely deviated from in this income category.
The Child Support Guidelines are predicated on the supposition that there are three types of expenditures that parents make for or on behalf of their children.. The first is fixed expenses (representing 38% of the child support amount) are those expenses incurred even when the child is not residing with the parent. Examples of this include housing-related expenses, such as mortgage or rent, utilities, household furnishings and household care items. The second is variable expenses (representing 37% of the child support amount). Variable expenses are incurred only when the child is with the parent. This category includes items such as transportation and food. Finally, controlled expenses (representing 25% of the child support amount) are those expenses which include items like clothing, personal care, entertainment and other miscellaneous items.
The Guidelines presume that each parent has fixed and variable expenses on behalf of the child. On the other hand, the Guidelines also presume that controlled expenses are ONLY incurred by the parent who is designated the “Parent of Primary Residence.” However, in a true joint custody scenario, neither parent is the Parent Primary Residence and both have controlled expenses. The calculation of child support in these cases has been problematic for many years and there has been little consistency as to the child support awards in these cases. On April 13, 2009, a published trial court decision was handed down in which there is a specific formula to determine child support.