Child Support Obligation when the Kids are With Me

Question:

My ex has custody of our children and I pay child support to her.  I asked my ex to leave some of our kids’ clothes at my house but she refused and told me I need to go buy my own set of clothes for them to have at my house.  Shouldn’t that be included in the child support I pay?

Answer:

Child support is based on a calculation model that attempts to determine the share of each parent’s income that would be used on the children as if the parents were still together.  The calculation determines what the gross support obligation is a divides it up between the parents.  This is based on the parents’ gross income and how much time they spend with each parent.  Theoretically, your child support payment is what is needed as support only while they are at your ex’s home because you are given a credit for the time that the children are with you in your home.  Based on that theory of child support you need to provide the same necessities for your children when they are with you as they are provided at home with your ex.  Those necessities are food, clothing, shelter, utilities, appropriate furnishings, transportation, health care and recreation.

If you feel like you are being gouged on child support or your children are spending much more time with you now than when the child support order was previously issued, I would recommend that you begin to keep a journal of the time you spend with your children, and specifically on the money that you are spending above and beyond the child support such as for food, clothing, household supplies (like toothpaste, soap, deodorant, diapers, etc.).  Things that are not just “fun things” and gifts to your kids.  You may be able to use this information to convince a court to reduce your monthly child support obligation by deviating from the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines.

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