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Characteristics of Shared-Placement Child Support Formulas Used in the Fifty States - page 18 / 54





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or “percentage-of-income,” which average around 17 percent of gross income or 20 percent of net income

(for one child). This lower level of basic child support paid by a parent with no time with the child is

important, since the starting point for the reduction in child support for shared placement in below-

threshold offset formulas begins at zero time, well below any particular state’s threshold level.

Table 1 shows this concept more clearly, using the example of Wyoming. The mathematical

reduction calculation (column 2) along the time-share continuum is gradual, as it is in the California

formula (as shown on Appendix B1). But the starting point for Wyoming’s reduction is more modest

($415 per month in this example, compared to $475 in California). This mathematical reduction

calculation is not actually applied to any case, however, until after the threshold, which in Wyoming is

currently defined as 40 percent time or more. The last column of Table 1 shows the amount of the order

that would actually be applied to cases along the time-share continuum. In situations where both parents

earned $30,000 annually, the child support order would be assessed at $415 per month for any case with

time-share between 0 and 39 percent. The order would then drop abruptly to $83 per month for cases with

a 40 percent time-share agreement. Comparing both columns of Table 1 shows how the monthly child

support order is calculated, and the “cliff effect” which results from its application.

The fact that this formula begins the reduction computation at zero time share (well below the

threshold) is the defining characteristic of the below-threshold offset formulas. In its simplest form, this

formula leads to low child support orders in shared placement cases. See Appendices B2 and B3 for the

result of Wyoming’s shared placement guidelines, compared to other states, at the level of 40 percent

time-share. Although Wyoming’s sole-custody child support guideline is not particularly low, compared

to other states, after applying the below-threshold offset formula, Wyoming’s guideline results in the

lowest child support order of any of the eight states included on the tables for shared placement cases.

We emphasize here that the guidelines used by below-threshold offset states contain no reference

to the threshold in the calculation of the formula. The point at which the formula takes effect is based on

the threshold, but the formula itself does not have the threshold embedded in it. This characteristics

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