As part of a divorce in Maryland, slight changes in setting a child custody schedule could have an enormous impact. Just a few differences in overnights could greatly affect child support obligations. Also, one or two overnights could mean hundred or thousands less of child support if the extra nights entails shared custody. It benefits you to be conscientious about child custody scheduling in marital settlement agreements. This is possible when you have an experienced family law attorney on your side to offer you guide and support along the way.
The basis of how a slight change in child custody schedule could mean paying less child support comes down to Maryland’s definition of shared custody and sole custody. If you have the children for 35% or less of overnights, your ex-spouse or the other parent has technically sole physical custody. Having your child more than 128 overnights, or 35%, means that you and your ex-spouse have shared custody of the child. In this case, Charlie, the father, had his child over at his place for alternating weekends, alternating Thursday evenings, a few federal holidays, and a part of summer breaks. Charlie was also obligated to pay a monthly amount of $3,000 for child support, which he later asked the judge to modify or reduce. Charlie claimed that the child support he was paying was calculated like Felicia, the mother, had sole physical custody, when judging from the total time or overnights their child was spending with him, he and Felicia actually have shared custody of their child.
Charlie was scheduled for a hearing to deliberate his case. The court discovered that Charlie has the child at his home for 140 nights, which was more than the 35% or 128 overnights required for him to not have shared custody and for Felicia to have sole physical custody of their child.
Adjustments in child custody schedules can make a big difference
How Charlie was able to pay less child support is based on how child support is calculated in Maryland. The amount of time you spend with your child that is considered shared physical custody with the other parent lowers your child support obligations. Having your child more than 35% of the time entitles you to a credit in determining your child support payments.
Having your child less than 35% of the time gives the other parent sole physical custody. With this arrangement, it would not matter if you have your child for 120 or 124 nights annually. You will still not be entitled to any adjustments in child support payments. This means that if a parent spends 35% or more of the time with their child, there can be an adjustment to their child support obligations.
There are numerous legal issues to deal with regarding child custody schedules and child support. If your ex-spouse will be the child’s primary custodian, make sure in the child custody scheduling arrangement that you spend 35% or more of the time with your child to have the privilege of paying less for child support. If, later on, child custody scheduling becomes modified so that you and your child get to spend more than 128 overnights, you may be granted a hearing to deliberate your claim to pay for a reduced amount of child support.