Since shared custody can get complicated when it comes to calculating child support, I held off on a more detailed discussion in the last post. We will pick up that thread now. Importantly, this post discusses the idea of a "day" for purposes of the shared custody support guidelines.
There are rules about what counts as a “day” for this purpose and usually the most important one to know is that anything that does not include an overnight visit does not count at all toward the 90 day threshold. That means that a parent who has their child from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm Monday through Friday gets no credit at all for that time. This can make the exact structure of a child custody order extremely important because it can potentially have a very large impact on the amount of child support that has to be paid. As always, it might not seem fair that a parent gets no credit in that situation, but it is definitely easier to enforce than counting up fractional days and trying to add them all together.
If the day count puts you into a shared custody arrangement, support is calculated using the shared custody guideline. Again, it might seem like there should be no support owed if each parent is taking care of the children for an equal amount of the time, but that is not how the calculation works. Although it can come out to zero support, it almost never does in practice. The calculation of support itself is different in a shared custody situation, and it is usually more complicated because there are multipliers to the base support and there is also a higher likelihood of both parents having work-related daycare costs to average and allocate.
As a final word on shared custody support, it does not matter whether a custody order says “shared custody” or “primary custody.” As will be discussed in a later post, it does not even matter if there is a custody order at all. The only thing that matters in this context is the actual day count. If an order says shared physical custody but one parent only gets to see the child every other weekend, then the 90 day threshold will not be met and sole custody guidelines will be used, and vice versa.
Please enjoy this disclaimer: The content of this post, indeed of all of my posts, is intended to reference only Virginia law. I am writing this blog to give some idea of the complexities that can underlie family law issues in Virginia and in no way am I giving anyone legal advice here. While I hope these posts will be informative, no one should feel entitled to rely on the information presented here as an authoritative source. Anyone facing a legal issue is well advised to speak to a lawyer face to face to discuss the specifics of that case, rather than relying on general information found on the internet.