In Part 1 of this series, I explored several reasons why husbands may prefer to pay alimony in divorce cases. In Part 2, we will take a closer look at child support.
Most parents universally agree that the method of calculating child support is mysterious and just plain wrong. The recipient usually believes it is not enough money, and the parent paying child support almost universally believes he or she is paying too much child support.
Are either of them right? Are either of them wrong? The problem is that it does not really matter, because the Maryland Legislature has created a formula for child support that rarely can be altered by the parents, even by consent.
There are two types of child support calculations. First, the more common method is based on one parent having custody and the other parent having less than 128 overnights per 365 overnights per year. Second, there is the less common method, which is based on the parent paying child support having between 128 and 182 overnights per 365 overnights per year. We will call the former the “sole” guidelines, and the latter the “shared” guidelines, even though these terms have nothing to do with child custody language.
The sole guidelines are almost completely driven by the gross monthly income of the parent paying child support. So, if you are the one paying child support under the sole guidelines, save your breath about telling the other parent to work harder and earn more money. It won’t reduce your child support payments.
Under the shared guidelines, income matters a great deal, and it can even rarely end up with the parent who has the children more overnights paying the other parent child support. Yikes!
Now, let’s go back to a concept I began exploring in the first blog in this series-the interplay between alimony and child support.
Child support is calculated based on the gross income of each parent. Alimony is counted towards the income of the party receiving alimony, and it is deductible to the other parent. So, where the dad earns $5000 per month in gross income and pays $500 per month in alimony, his true gross income is $4500 per month. If the mom earns $4000 per month, her true gross income is $4500 per month.
These adjustments will make a small but significant adjustment under the sole child support guidelines, but they will make a surprisingly large adjustment under the shared guidelines (and that adjustment will be larger the more overnights the parent paying child support has).
Stay tuned for part 3 of this series, where I will add into the mix what happens when the one parent is also paying the mortgage-or mortgages-on the family home.