Maine Child Support & Parenting Time Calculations
In Maine, the amount of child support is figured based on income only. Parenting time doesn't figure into the basic formula.
If parents are providing "substantially equal care," however, a different formula is used to determine child support amounts. Accurate parenting time numbers can directly affect your child support--whether you pay or receive.
Maine 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, Maine 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 Maine.
In a Maine 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.
In Maine, a basic child support formula is used to determine child support amounts. If parenting time is considered equal, then a different formula is used.
In the basic formula, both parent's incomes are added together, then calculated to determine the basic child support obligation. In Maine, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent. Children who are 0 to 11 are entitled to a certain amount, which adjusts upward when each child turns 12 years old.
If your annual parenting time results in an approximate 50/50 split, you may qualify for a different child support amount. The statues do not define precisely what parenting time percentages constitute "equal" but it is generally considered an approximate 50/50 split.
Unlike many other states, Maine gives no automatic parenting time credit that can reduce your child support amount.
Accurate parenting time percentages are important because Maine law sets up two different child support formulas to calculate amounts. Your total parenting time percentage must be at or near 50 percent in order to use the substantially equal care formula.
If your parenting time is approximately 50 percent annually, you will qualify for this equal care formula. If you use estimates of your parenting time, which are not approximately 50 percent of the time annually, your child support amount may not be fairly calculated.
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 less than 50 percent of the year. This case does not qualify for the substantially equal care formula. The children are both under 12 years old. He pays $1,360 in child support to Mary.
- Scenario #2: Robert hosts the children for less than 50 percent of the year. The children are both over 12 years old. He pays $1,680 in child support to Mary.
- Scenario #3: Robert hosts the children, who are both under 12, for 50 percent of the year. This qualifies the case for the substantially equal care formula. Robert pays $404 in child support to Mary. This is because he is the higher earner.
- Scenario #4: Robert hosts the children, who are both over 12, for 50 percent of the year. Using the substantially equal care formula, Robert pays $500 in child support to Mary. This is because he is the higher earner.
- Scenario #5: If Robert and Mary earned the same amount of money and had a 50/50 parenting time arrangement, there would be no child support paid or received between them.
In Maine, the basic child support formula results in the non-residential parent paying child support to the residential parent. The substantially equal care formula results in the higher earner paying child support to the lower earner.
Maine's child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for shared custody child support:
- Eligible children: In Maine, child support ends when a child turns 18, which is the age of majority, upon emancipation or at age 19 if the child still attends high school. The age of each child has an impact on the child support amount because the Maine child support award changes when children are 12 and older.
- Gross earnings: Gross earnings are established based on tax records and current pay stubs. Maine law requires the use of both parents' incomes from the equivalent of one full-time job to determine a child support amount.
- Specific deductions: There are some deductions allowed by Maine family courts that allow an adjustment of the combined gross 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 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 Maine 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 Maine, remember these 5 things:
- Maine 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.
- Maine guidelines do not include parenting time in any of its child support formulas. However, you must have approximately 50/50 parenting time to qualify to use the substantially equal care formula, which generally results in less child support than the basic formula.
- Child support amounts in Maine are different for children 0 to 11 than they are for children 12 to 18.
- In Maine, unless the parents are following a 50/50 parenting time split, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent. When parents follow a substantially equal care formula, the higher earning parent pays the lower earning parent.
- If Maine parents have equal pay and participate in substantially equal care custody, child support is generally not awarded to either parent.
Use the Custody X Change software to accurately calculate your total parenting time to present to an Maine family court.