Louisiana Child Support & Parenting Time Calculations
In Louisiana, the amount of child support is figured based on income only. Parenting time doesn't figure into the formula.
The court may deviate from its strict child support guidelines on a case-by-case basis when the non-residential parent's visitation time greatly exceeds what is considered customary. Accurate parenting time numbers can directly affect your child support, whether you pay or receive.
Louisiana attorneys and judges often rely on parenting time estimates, even if they are incorrect, because counting parenting time is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents often rely on these estimates as well.
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 add up hours 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 parenting time, and you can see how your parenting time changes 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, Louisiana family courts award custody of the children to one or both parents. Custody is divided into legal custody and physical custody. In many states, physical custody has an impact on the amount of child support, but not in Louisiana.
In a Louisiana physical custody case, the family court will designate a primary physical custodian. It will not label physical custody under the “sole vs. joint” designation. The residential parent hosts the children the majority of the time. The non-residential parent is entitled to visitation or parenting time.
Louisiana family courts must comply with the child support guidelines as specified in the statute, but a court has the right to deviate if it finds that there is a disservice to the best interests of the child or cause an unfair situation. If the court does deviate, the details must be made a part of the record.
In Louisiana, the child support formula is the same for sole and joint physical custody.
Both parent's income is added together, then matched to a schedule of basic child support obligations that determines how much per month the children are entitled to. It includes columns with amounts for one child up to six children.
The table separates monthly income into categories this way:
- $0 to $4,999
- $5,000 to $12,999
- $13,000 to $19,999
Unlike many other states, Louisiana gives no automatic parenting time credit that can reduce your child support amount.
The only way parenting time can influence the amount of child support you receive or pay is if the family court deems the visitations are substantially in excess of those usually approved by the court. The court will make modifications to child support on a case-by-case basis.
Louisiana has no approved formula to use when parents enjoy equal parenting time. Any decisions about abatement of child support are up to the family court.
Accurate parenting time percentages are important because Louisiana law allows for exceptions to be made in the child support amount if you can show you qualify for special consideration.
The law states that the court can deviate from the standard child support guidelines but doesn't specify parenting time as one of those reasons.
It is possible that if the court finds extraordinary visitation time by the non-custodial parent, it may consider an abatement of support. While this scenario is rare, at least you can present the court with accurate numbers.
Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert earns $4,000 per month, while Mary earns $2,400 per month after allowable deductions. They have two children.
Here are the steps to figure out their child support amount:
- Their gross monthly income totals $6,400, of which Mary contributes 37 percent and Robert contributes 63 percent.
- Robert and Mary are allowed to subtract $200 based on certain allowable adjustments outlined in the Louisiana Revised Statues. In this case, adjustments included health care coverage for the children.
- Their revised combined income is $6,200. This monthly total is then located on the table in the Louisiana child support guidelines.
- According to the table, the total base support obligation for two children is $1,344.
- That amount is then multiplied by the percentage of income for both Robert and Mary. For Robert, the base amount is $900 and for Mary, it is $497.
- Robert pays the $900 in child support to Mary if he is the non-residential parent. Mary pays $438 to Robert if she is the non-residential parent.
If either parent were able to show that their parenting time greatly exceeded the standard as a non-residential parent, the Louisiana family court may consider reducing the amount of child support.
Louisiana's child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for joint custody child support:
- The non-residential parent's adjusted monthly income
Louisiana law specifies the age of majority as 18 years of age, but the Louisiana Revised Statue 9:309(C) extends child support for a child past the age of majority if the child is unmarried, a full time student in good standing in a secondary school, and dependent on either parent. Developmentally disabled children may receive support up to age 22.
- The cost of health insurance premiums for the children
- A pre-existing child support or alimony obligation by either parent
Parenting time only figures into a child support formula when you can show that your total parenting time is substantially in excess of what is usually approved by the Louisiana family courts.
Even then, Louisiana courts have avoided setting up a specific formula that includes parenting time so as not to put a dollar amount on visitations.
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 Louisiana 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 Louisiana, remember these 5 things:
- Louisiana figures child support amounts based on a strict income shares formula that includes numbers such as gross monthly income for each parent and health care premiums for the children.
- Louisiana guidelines do not include parenting time as a standard claim on deviating from the state guidelines. Any decision to reduce child support is up to the individual family court.
- To show the court your accurate parenting time numbers, provide calculations to the hour of your actual parenting time and show how that compares to your county's parenting time guidelines.
- A Louisiana family court may agree to an abatement of child support due to above average parenting time that exceeds the county's customary visitation guidelines.
- Generally, the residential parent receives child support from the non-residential parent.
Use the Custody X Change software to accurately calculate your total parenting time to present to an Louisiana family court.