Alaska Child Support & Parenting Time Calculations
Alaska uses overnights, or where the children sleep, as well as significant day visits as the basis for figuring shared custody timeshare percentages in its child support formula. These totals then convert to a percentage.
Besides income, parenting time percentages are a key part of the Alaska child support formula. Your parenting time directly affects your child support, whether you pay or receive.
Alaska attorneys and judges often rely on overnight estimates only, even if they are incorrect, because counting total hours is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents often rely on these estimates as well. Neglecting significant day visits can make a big difference in totals.
Using estimates means your parenting time totals are wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. This means your child support amount will not be fair or exact.
To calculate parenting time, the easiest and most accurate way is to use software. Without software, you're forced to count each hour for a whole year, which is error-prone when you include alternating holidays, summer break, and any changes to the schedule throughout the year.
The leading parenting time calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your parenting time to see if it was estimated incorrectly.
Using software, you can also tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your total time, and you can see how your parenting time percentages change each year due to holidays and other events.
You can also track what actually happens, and show how much parenting time you've actually received for any period of time. Historical information is a powerful tool when you request a child support modification or when you request more parenting time.
In any divorce, Alaska family courts award custody of the children to one or both parents. Custody is divided into legal custody and physical custody. Child support amounts are tied to physical custody designations.
Alaska sole physical custody: The children reside with and are supervised by the residential parent, while the other parent is entitled to overnight visitations. In Alaska, when the non-residential parent has 110 or fewer overnights, or less than 30 percent of the total time with the children, the family court considers it a sole custody case.
Alaska joint physical custody: Each parent has significant periods of physical custody, which allows them frequent and continuing contact with their children. Alaska requires that each parent host more than 110 overnights, or 30 percent of the time per year, to qualify for joint physical custody.
The parenting time percentage only figures into a joint physical custody case. A sole physical custody case is figured using a different formula, without offering any parenting time credit.
Sole physical custody formula: Alaska family courts use a formula that multiplies the non-custodial parent's adjusted income by a percentage representing the number of children involved. The non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent. Parenting time does not factor into the formula.
Joint physical custody formula: Alaska family courts use a formula that adjusts the amount of child support payment based on the number of day visits and overnights that each parent has with the children. This total is converted to a percentage. As the parenting time totals increase, the amount of child support decreases.
Look at a sole custody scenario for a hypothetical child support case in Alaska. Robert earns $4,000 per month. Mary earns $2,400 per month. They have two children.
Because Robert will host the children for fewer than 110 overnights, he is the non-residential parent.
To calculate child support, Alaska family courts will only take Robert's annual income and multiply it by an assigned percentage that represents the number of children.
The percentages used to calculate an Alaska child support award are:
- 20% for one child
- 27% for two children
- 33% for three children
- Another 3% for each additional child
So, $4,000 x 12 months = $48,000 x .27 (two children) = $12,960 ÷ 12 months = $1,080 in child support.
Robert will pay Mary $1,080 in child support each month for their two children.
In Alaska, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent, regardless of which parent earns more. If the custody was reversed, and Robert had sole physical custody of the children, Mary would pay child support based on her income to Robert.
Consider the hypothetical joint custody case of Robert and Mary. Robert earns $4,000 per month, while Mary earns $2,400 per month. They have two children.
See how the child support amounts change in these joint custody examples:
- Scenario #1: Robert hosts the children for 111 overnights, or 31%, which is the minimum required to qualify for joint physical custody. He pays $816 in child support each month to Mary.
- Scenario #2: If Robert increases his overnights by two weeks to 125 per year or 34%, he pays $738 in child support per month to Mary.
- Scenario #3: If Robert's overnights are equal to Mary's, with 182 overnights or 50%, he pays $324 in child support per month to Mary.
- Scenario#4: If Robert's overnights exceed Mary's, with 200 overnights or 55%, he pays $194 in child support per month to Mary.
In Alaska joint custody cases, generally the parent with the higher income makes the child support payments to the other parent. However, parenting time makes a big difference in the total amount.
Alaska's child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts of child support:
- Overnights and day visits: Generally, a day of visitation means the children must remain overnight with that parent. However, Alaska family courts allow methods of calculating the percentages of custody that give an accurate picture of parenting time totals. This means including regular parenting time that consists of long visits and regular weekday meetings, for example.
- Eligible children: Qualifying children must be under age 18, or age 19 if completing high school or general education equivalency requirements full time. Support ends upon graduation.
- Gross earnings: Gross earnings are established based on tax records and current pay stubs. Alaska law requires the use of both parents' incomes (non-residential for sole custody and both for joint custody) from the equivalent of one full-time job to determine a child support amount.
- Specific deductions: There are some deductions allowed by Alaska family courts that allow an adjustment of the income, including health insurance premiums for the children, support for other children and child care expenses, for example.
Paying accurate child support helps your children in several ways, primarily because it ensures their financial needs are met.
Here are some other reasons why accurate parenting time percentages help you, the other parent and your children:
- It provides a fair way to determine your child support amounts
- It guarantees the child support amount reflects each parent's responsibilities
- It allows for modifications if your actual time and scheduled time are different
- It is compliant with Alaska law
Your financial obligations to your children don't end with divorce, so whether you are paying or receiving child support, you owe it to your children to pay or receive the proper amount.
To ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount of child support in Alaska, remember these 5 things:
- In Civil Rule 90.3, the Alaska Supreme Court includes the guidelines that family courts must follow to determine child support amounts.
- The sole physical custody child support formula assumes the non-residential parent is hosting for fewer than 110 overnights, or less than 30%, and uses that parent's income to figure child support. Parenting time doesn't count as any kind of credit toward child support.
- The joint physical custody child support formula factors in parenting time and provides an adjustment based on the totals.
- Alaska family courts figure parenting time based on overnights and significant day visits, totaled up and included in the joint custody formula.
- The higher the parenting time total, the lower the child support amount, generally.
Use Custody X Change software to create a custody schedule that will quickly calculate the total overnights for the Alaska child support formula.
As you negotiate what kind of custody schedule will best fit your needs, the software will accurately calculate your parenting time percentage.