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Characteristics of Shared-Placement Child Support Formulas Used in the Fifty States - page 16 / 54





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gradual decline in monthly child support in California along the continuum of lesser-time parent time-

share, in an example where the greater-time parent has the higher income. Note that, with these particular

incomes, at the time-share level of 44 percent, the California formula produces a negative number,

indicating that the greater-time parent would become the payor, not the recipient, of child support.

Two characteristics of the California formula should be emphasized. First, as shown in Figure 4,

if the greater-time parent has a higher income than the lesser-time parent, the greater-time parent will

become the payor of child support at dollar amounts and time-share levels which depend on the size of

parental income discrepancies. Many policy makers, parents, and courts might consider it appropriate that

a lesser-time parent who still spends considerable time with the child should receive some level of child

support when the primary parent has a substantially greater income.15 This is a positive characteristic of

the broad class of offset formulas, and is probably the reason why most states have chosen them.

Appendix B6, however, shows the child support order in the circumstance of a very high-income

greater-time parent, and a modest-earning lesser-time parent. In this situation, the table shows that the

greater-time parent would owe child support to the lesser-time parent at relatively low levels of time-

share (in this income scenario, as low as 16 percent time). This situation, in which a lesser-time parent

spending a small amount of time with the child is the child support recipient, might not appear to be

intuitively fair by most courts, and is a very unusual aspect of the California “without threshold” offset


A second characteristic of the California formula is the high level of child support amounts

calculated at very low levels of time-share. Appendices B1 through B4 show that in comparison to the

other seven states, the California formula produces the highest child support amounts owed by parents

scheduled to spend little or no time with the child. The effect is to encourage parents to spend more time

15See Appendix Legal 3 for a discussion of California law on this point.

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