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Characteristics of Shared-Placement Child Support Formulas Used in the Fifty States - page 2 / 54





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Characteristics of Shared-Placement Child Support Formulas Used in the Fifty States


Most persons would agree that in divorce and paternity cases where separated parents share time

with the child equally, where responsibilities for costs of raising the child are shared equally, and where

incomes of the parents are similar, no child support payment is necessary. When the time spent with

parents is not equal, the incomes of the parents are not equal, or the responsibilities for costs are not

equal, most child support policy makers would agree that an order of child support is appropriate. Under

these circumstances, however, child support guidelines are needed because it is not intuitively obvious

what an equitable child support order would be.

This report is an update of a report by Melli and Brown (1994) that explored the use of guidelines

in shared placement cases in the early 1990s. That report noted that eleven states did not address the issue

of shared placement. As of June 2006,1 however, only three states2 did not acknowledge shared placement

(alternatively referred to as “extended visitation,” “parenting time,” “joint physical custody,” or “dual


The Melli and Brown paper also indicated that another twenty states acknowledged shared

placement situations and gave the court discretion to reduce child support to adjust for the direct costs

incurred by the parent who spent less time with the child, but did not provide a specific formula to use in

calculating an adjustment. Currently, the number of states that leave child support adjustments in shared

placement situations to the “court’s discretion” has been reduced to fourteen. (See Appendix A for a list

of these states.)3

1State guidelines were reviewed for changes in guidelines, thresholds, and formula types as of June 2006. Kentucky, Mississippi, and Texas. See Appendix Legal 1 for a discussion of Kentucky law. 2

3Three of these are Alabama, Connecticut, and Washington. See Appendix Legal 2 for a discussion of the law in those three states.

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