generates a cliff effect. The cliff effect shown above in Figure 1 is a graphic illustration of the results of
the Wyoming formula, shown in tabular form on Table 1.
The size of the cliff effect depends on a number of factors. One factor is the situation of large
income imbalances between the parents, particularly where the income of the greater-time parent is
higher, relative to the lesser-time parent. For example, in a case where a lesser-time parent has an annual
income of $30,000 and a greater-time parent has an income of $72,000, the lesser-time parent would owe
$336 per month under the current Wyoming basic guideline, at 39 percent time. But this same parent
would receive child support in the amount of $86 per month with an increase of 3–4 days, to 40 percent
time (see Appendix B4). Because of these large cliff effects, relatively few states have adopted the simple
below-threshold offset formula.
Complex Below-Threshold Offset Formulas. One approach to reducing the cliff effect found in
below-threshold offset formulas is to adjust the mathematics of the formula in some way. We refer to
these types of formulas as complex below-threshold offset formulas. They have become popular in recent
years, and are used by many states.
The most common method of adjusting the formula to reduce cliff effects is to add a multiplier,
such as “1.5”, as in the form of:
CS = ((FAinc*BasicCS) * Motime * 1.5) - ((MOinc* BasicCS) * FAtime * 1.5)
Where: FAinc = father’s income MOinc = mother’s income FAtime = percent of child’s time with father, on an annual basis MOtime = percent of child’s time with mother, on an annual basis BasicCS = the basic amount of child support that would be owed in a sole custody situation, if that parent was the paying parent.
The effect of the “1.5” multiplier is to artificially increase the hypothetical basic child support
amount owed at zero time to a higher dollar amount. The reduction computation of the formula starts
from this artificially inflated beginning point. See the second column on Table 2 for the mathematical
reduction calculation as it would be without the 1.5 multiplier; the third column of Table 2 for the