Delaware Child Support & Overnight Calculations

Delaware child support is based on the number of overnight visits

Delaware uses overnights, or where the children sleep, as the basis for figuring custody timeshare percentages in its child support formula.

Besides income, overnight totals are a key part of the Delaware child support formula. Your overnights directly affect your child support, whether you pay or receive.

Most overnight totals are estimates (and thus incorrect)

Delaware attorneys and judges often rely on overnight estimates, even if they are incorrect, because counting overnights is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents often rely on these estimates as well.

Using estimates means your overnight totals are wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. This means your child support amount will not be fair or exact.

How to calculate overnights instead of relying on estimates

To calculate overnights, the easiest and most accurate way is to use software. Without software, you're forced to count each night 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 overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your overnights to see if they were estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Overnights Now

Using software, you can also tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your total overnights, and you can see how your overnights change each year due to holidays and other events.

You can also track what actually happens, and show how many overnights 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.

Fast facts on child custody and child support in Delaware

In any divorce, Delaware family courts award custody of the children to one or both parents. Custody is divided into legal custody and physical custody. A parenting time percentage is included in the child support formula for joint custody only.

Delaware sole physical custody: The children reside with and are supervised by the residential parent, while the other parent is entitled to overnight visitations. In Delaware, sole physical custody is given to the parent with whom the children spend the most time with. The non-residential parent can host up to 174 overnights.

Delaware joint physical custody: Each parent has significant periods of physical custody, which allows them frequent and continuing contact with their children. Parenting time for joint custody requires children to spend at least 175 overnights with the non-residential parent.

Delaware child support formula and parenting time adjustment

Delaware family courts use a formula that considers both parents' incomes and the needs of the child to arrive at a monthly child support amount.  The parenting time percentage adjustment only figures into sole physical custody cases.

Parenting time percentage credit in Delaware is determined by overnights:

  • Up to 109 overnights is 0% credit
  • 110 to 132 overnights is 10% credit
  • 133 to 150 overnights is 20% credit
  • 151 to 164 overnights is 30% credit
  • 165 to 174 overnights is 40% credit

The non-residential parent generally pays the residential parent the child support.

The joint custody formula doesn't allow a parenting time percentage adjustment toward child support. The higher earner pays the lower earner.

Examples of sole child custody and Delaware child support

Consider the hypothetical 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 examples:

  • Scenario #1: Robert is the non-residential parent, and is scheduled to host the children for fewer than 110 overnights per year. He does not qualify for a parenting time percentage adjustment. He is required to pay $897 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #2: Robert hosts the children for 115 overnights. This gives him a 10% credit, so he pays $769 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #3: Robert hosts the children for 149 nights. This gives him a 20% credit, so he pays $641 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #4: Robert hosts the children for 160 nights. This gives him a 30% credit, so he pays $567 in child support to Mary.

If Mary were the non-residential parent, she would pay Robert child support and would qualify for the parenting time adjustment credit based on the number of overnights she hosted.

Examples of the shared custody formula in Delaware child support

Consider the hypothetical 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 examples:

  • Scenario #1: If Robert and Mary agree to an approximate 50/50 split, around 182 overnights, Robert would pay $290 in child support to Mary. This is because he is the higher earner and must pay the net difference.
  • Scenario #2: If Robert and Mary agree to a 50/50 split and both earn the same amount of money, there would be no child support paid or received.
  • Scenario #3: If Robert and Mary agree to a 50/50 split and she makes more money, such as $4800 per month, she would pay $115 in child support to Robert. This is because she is the higher earner.

In shared custody support cases, the Delaware Child Support Formula determines that each parent keeps a portion of the combined support obligation in their own homes. The higher earner pays the lower earner to ensure the children enjoy the same standard of living at both households.

Other factors in the Delaware child support formula

Delaware's child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for shared custody child support:

  • Overnights: Unlike some states, Delaware does not factor in daytime visitations into a child support formula—only overnights. The non-residential parent must host the children for more than 109 overnights but fewer than 175 to qualify for sole custody. More than 175 overnights results in shared custody.
  • Eligible children: Qualifying children in Delaware must be under the age of 19 or still in high school. Disabled children who must remain with the residential parent may require child support past these limits.
  • Gross earnings: Gross earnings are established based on tax records and current pay stubs. Delaware law requires the use of both parents' incomes from the equivalent of one full-time job to determine a child support amount.
  • Certain expenses: There are some factors that allow for an adjustment of the income, including health insurance premiums for the children, support for other children and child care expenses, for example.
How accurate child support helps your children

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 overnight numbers 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 Delaware 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.

Top 5 things to remember about Delaware child support and overnights

To ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount of child support in Delaware, remember these 5 things:

  1. Child support in Delaware is determined by the Delaware Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines are located in Delaware Revised Statutes 25-320.
  2. Sole physical custody child support formulas include a parenting time credit based on the number of quarter days, half days and full days that the non-residential parent hosts the children.
  3. The higher the parenting time percentage, the lower the child support amount, generally.
  4. Joint physical custody child support formulas assume a 50/50 parenting time split, approximately 182 days per parent. No parenting time credits figure into the formula.
  5. Delaware child support increases whenever a child turns 12, in both sole custody and joint custody situations.

Use Custody X Change software to create a custody schedule that will quickly calculate the total overnights for the Delaware 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.


The leading overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your overnights to see if they were estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Time

The leading overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your overnights to see if they were estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Overnights Now