Forward Thinking Family Law Since 1994

Will I Save Having to Pay Child Support if I have the Children More Time than the Other Parent?

Child support is determined in part by the amount of time that the children spent with each parent.  In Michigan, the time is measured in over nights, generally. There is more expense involved in caring for children than just paying child support.

It's expensive having the children spend time with each parent.  The primary parent has to provide more space in housing, generally buys the clothes, toys and other items needed by children.  Children eat a lot and want to be entertained.  While they have short attention spans, they need many toys to keep them occupied.  Once they have longer attention spans, their toys cost more.  In short, child support only covers the basics; food, clothes, shelter.  Each parent still has to provide considerably more to met the needs of the children.  How much money is needed is usually determined by the amount of time the children spend with each parent and the life style of the family.  As a general rule, the more time that the parent spends with the children, the more that parent will be paying out of pocket, in addition to child support.   Consequently, the money that one parent saves in not having to pay support to the other parent is more than offset by the out-of-pocket costs of having the children with you.

Another consideration is the lost financial opportunity costs when you have the children.  If you have to pick up the children at child care, you cannot work late or work overtime.  Some parents supplement their earnings by working a second job.  Generally, this is not possible for the primary parent.  Some parents find that the cost of child care is too high, based on their incomes, and limit their working hours to times that the children attend school.  So, the parent who has the children for the greater length of time, loses the opportunity to earn more.

Another consideration is lost social opportunities.  Children need consistency.  Mental health professionals advise against introducing children to new adult friends until you are certain that the relationship with this new potential partner will last.  In short, having the children with you will limit the amount of time you have to date or socialize with your friends.

The amount of time that you plan to spend with your children should not be driven by the projected cost of child support.  You are only paying a portion of your income as child support.  Consider all the aspects of caring for your children and how that impacts the rest of your life when developing a parenting plan.  The ideal parenting plan balances the strengths that both parents have and coordinates the children's needs with the needs parents have to earn money, socialize and care for themselves.  Once you have determined the parenting time, then calculate the support needed to implement it.