Custody Lawyers in Frederick Maryland will tell you there is a child support “sweet spot” for which child support obligors want to be mindful.
The sweet spot? It can actually benefit a child support payor to let the payee stay home with the child rather than work.
Before you can recognize this phenomenon, you have to know the basics. Sort of like having to know that clorox and ammonia are good cleaning agents before you learn not to mix them together without the disastrous consequences that follow. A poorly prosecuted child support case can also be disastrous.
The child support guidelines have been explained exhaustively in some of our previous articles, so I will call those to your attention here:
After you look at these articles, the guidelines and the factors in those calculations, some general maxims become clear. One of those is that the higher the income of the custodial (or “Payee”) parent the lower the monthly child support obligation for the non-custodial (or “Payor”) parent. Sin qua non, the higher the income of the non-custodial parent the higher the monthly child support obligation.
Easy right? Read on. Based upon the foregoing maxims many, if not most, child support cases turn on the issue of “voluntary impoverishment.” See our previous article “ Child Support in Frederick Md – Voluntary Impoverishment ”
Even if the disputed child support case does not raise to the complexity of a voluntary impoverishment analysis; both sides are still always trying to have the judge calculate that the other party’s income is as high as possible. That however, is not always the best case to make.
Consider if you will, a divorcing couple with a 4yr old child. The Mother has historically worked a part-time job or not worked at all. Having moved from the marital home, the Father needs his child support to be the least it can be. He convinces the court to assign a full time income to the Mother.
The Father earns $6000.00 per month and if Mom is permitted to have no income, that makes Father’s child support obligation $976.00 per month. Dad balks at this amount and argues that nothing is preventing the Mom from working. He asks the judge to calculate his child support based upon her having a job.
Having made a compelling argument that the Mom should get a job, the judge determines that she could work full time for minimum wage. That would make Mother’s income $1300.00 per month before taxes. Taken alone, that reduces Father’s child support to $887.65.
Well, “every little bit helps!” says Dad. Right? Then, right before Father slaps a big high five with his lawyer, the judge says the following:
“In light of Mother’s need to work full-time, I am going to factor in the expense of work related day care.”
The judge points out that Mother indicated that child care for her 4 year old would be $150 per week or $650 per month. When you factor that into the guidelines, Dad’s support jumps to $1421.95 per month.
If Dad and his lawyer are lucky, the judge will let them take the lower amount without attributing the full time income to Mother.
If he is even more lucky, the judge will not assess attorney’s fees against him for this lesson in child support calculations. As human beings embroiled in an adversarial process, people sometimes convince themselves of their own position so effectively that they lose site of the potential pitfalls associated with that position.
The Maryland Department of Health and Human services has a website where you can calculate child support guidelines: http://www.dhr.state.md.us/CSOCGuide/App/selectWorksheet.do I am not convinced this website helps because people tweek and tweek and tweek the numbers until they see what they want to see.
There is no substitute for consulting with a lawyer and always participate in mediation, if only just to hear the potential retorts to your theory of what is most financially beneficial.
Also, don’t sell short the benefits of a child having a stay at home parent, even if that home is a broken one.
Timothy Conlon, Esquire for The Custody Place
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