[Note: this is a transcript of a video that originally appeared on our website in August 2014]
Many people with children who are newly separated believe that if their children live with them more than 40% of the time, they do not have to pay child support to their ex-partner. The truth is that this is not necessarily so.
Child support is owed to the parent with whom the children live the majority of the time. If, however, the children live with each parent more than 40% of the time, a situation commonly referred to as set-off will happen. In a set-off scenario, a court will determine what each parent owes the other in child support. The court will then set those amounts off against each other. For example, if a court determines that a father owes $3000 a month in child support and a mother owes $2000 a month, then the father’s child support obligation could be $1000 a month. If both parents owe the same amount of child support, then the set-off amount would be zero.
The key thing that you should know about set-off is that it is discretionary; in other words, there is no guarantee that a court will order set-off, even if the children live roughly half the time with each parent. This is because the courts must ensure that there is not a large disparity of income between the households. And if one parent makes significantly more than the other, the court may not award the set-off amount. Therefore, although set-off is not impossible, a 50/50 parenting time schedule does not automatically guarantee a reduction in child support.
There are many factors that come into play when determining child support. If you have a child support issue, it is best to speak to a family law lawyer to discuss your specific circumstances.
For more information, contact our Family Law team here.