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Characteristics of Shared-Placement Child Support Formulas Used in the Fifty States - page 4 / 54

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reduction in child support, are likely to create an unnecessary tug-of-war between parents over time and

money, and are therefore deleterious to the well-being of both parents and children. The paper concludes

by recommending a formula which is not difficult to understand, which allows lesser-time parents to

sometime become the child support payee, and which avoids the “cliff effect.”

Definitions

Unequal Shared Placement. We use the term “unequal” shared placement to refer to situations

where there is some imbalance of time-share between the two parents, one parent having more time (the

“greater-time” parent), and the other parent having less time (the “lesser-time” parent) with the child.

Since a common assumption is that the lesser-time parent will normally be the one who should pay child

support, the tables and graphs used in this paper refer to the child’s time with the “lesser-time” parent.

Equal Shared Placement. This refers to cases in which the parents share their time with the

child/children equally, or 182–183 days per year, with each parent. This is sometimes considered a special

case of shared placement, and a few states have separate guidelines that apply to equal shared cases.5

Equal shared cases are included on the tables and figures here, but at this level of time-share the table and

figure titles are admittedly misnomers, there being no lesser-time or greater-time parents in equal shared

cases.

Threshold. All but four states with a shared placement guideline make use of a defined

“threshold” that identifies the point along the continuum of time-share above which an adjustment of

child support should be made in order to take into account the direct costs of caring for the child incurred

by the lesser-time parent. Threshold levels vary widely, and can be expressed as a percentage of time, or

as the number of days or overnights that a child spends with their lesser-time parent:

5The state of Iowa currently has two separate guidelines for shared placement cases, one for unequal shared placement, and another for equal shared cases.

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