Must I pay child support during the month I have the kids?

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Question:

My ex-wife and I have joint custody of our two children. I have them every other weekend and one month of the year. During the month in which the children live with me, is my ex-wife entitled to receive child support I would normally pay?

Answer:

I see your concern -- you're laying out cash for the kids' daily bread and writing a support check to their mom all at the same time. But look at it this way (you'll have to, because this is how the law looks at it): Even when the kids are gone, their mother still has to maintain a home that will be theirs for the rest of the year.

So if the court order says you pay $400 a month for child support, you are required to pay that amount no matter whose house the children are tearing around in. To change the amount, you would have to go back to court and get the order modified.

Some states' laws recognize your dilemma, and require child support to be adjusted for the amount of time the children spend with each parent -- but the court will usually calculate a yearly average so that your payments would continue at the same rate all year long.

It's less common for a court to suspend payments for the month or two that the child is with one parent, because of the hassle for payroll departments, many of which make the payments directly out of the supporting parent's paycheck.

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