Washington, D.C. Child Support & Overnight Calculations
Washington, D.C. uses overnights, or where the children sleep 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 Washington, D.C. child support formula. Your parenting time directly affects your child support, whether you pay or receive.
Washington, D.C. 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 usually rely on these estimates as well.
Using estimates means your overnight totals can be wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. This means your child support amount will not be fair or exact.
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.
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.
In any divorce, Washington 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.
Washington, D.C. sole physical custody: The children reside with and are supervised by the residential parent, while the other parent is entitled to overnight visitations. In Washington, D.C., when the non-residential parent has 128 or fewer overnights, or less than 35% of the total time with the children, the family court considers it a sole custody case.
Washington, D.C. joint physical custody: Each parent has significant periods of physical custody, which allows them frequent and continuing contact with their children. Washington, D.C. requires that each parent host more than 128 overnights, or 35% of the time per year, to qualify for joint physical custody.
Washington, D.C. family courts use formulas that consider both parents' incomes and the needs of the child to arrive at a monthly child support amount. A parenting time adjustment is given based on joint custody.
Sole custody formula: The total income from the non-residential parent is put into the formula. Certain deductions reduce that total to an adjusted income. To be considered a sole custody case, the non-residential parent spends fewer than 128 days per year, or less than 35 percent of the time, with the children. There is no parenting time credit given for sole custody situations. The residential parent receives child support from the non-residential parents according to Washington, D.C. law.
Joint custody formula: A different formula is used for joint custody child support calculations. Both household incomes figure into the formula, unlike the one for sole custody. In the District of Columbia, when the family court orders joint physical custody, the non-residential parent must host the children for 128 days per year or more. The more overnights, the greater the credit toward child support.
Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert's adjusted income is $4,000 per month, while Mary's adjusted monthly income is $2,400. They have two children.
See how the child support amounts change in these examples:
- Scenario #1: Robert is the non-residential parent in this sole custody case, and is scheduled to host the children for fewer than 128 days per year. He pays $913 in child support each month to Mary.
- Scenario #2: Mary is the non-residential parent and hosts the children for fewer than 128 days per year. She pays $560 in child support to Robert.
In Washington, D.C. sole custody cases, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent, regardless of income.
Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert's adjusted monthly income is $4,000, while Mary's adjusted monthly income is $2,400. They have two children.
See how the child support amounts change in these examples:
- Scenario #1: Robert hosts the children for 130 days, which is just over the minimum to qualify for joint physical custody. He pays $574 in child support per month to Mary.
- Scenario #2: Robert hosts the children for 150 days. He pays $464 in child support per month to Mary.
- Scenario #3: Robert hosts the children for 175 days. He pays $309 in child support per month to Mary.
- Scenario #4: Robert and Mary agree to a 50/50 split, or 182 days. He pays $265 in child support per month to Mary. This is because he is the higher earner.
In Washington, D.C. joint custody, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent.
In the case of a 50/50 split, the higher earner generally pays child support to the lower earner to ensure the children's standard of living is the same in both locations.
The District of Columbia's child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for joint custody child support:
Eligible children: In Washington, D.C., child support payments continue for each child until he or she turns 21, at any point where the child becomes self-supporting, such as through marriage or military service.
Gross earnings: Gross earnings are established based on tax records and current pay stubs. Washington, D.C. law uses one parent's income from the equivalent of one full-time job to determine a child support amount in sole custody cases. Both incomes figure into joint custody child support.
Specific deductions: There are some deductions allowed by Washington, D.C. 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 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 the laws of the District of Columbia
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 Washington, D.C., remember these 5 things:
- Washington, D.C. Child Support Guidelines award sole or joint physical custody based on the number of overnights the non-residential parent receives.
- Sole physical custody means that the non-residential parent is scheduled for fewer than 128 days with the children per year.
- Parents with more than 128 overnights qualify for a parenting time adjustment based on the number of overnights per year. The parenting adjustment means lower child support amounts.
- The non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent in the District of Columbia.
- In the case of a 50/50 split in parenting time, the higher earner pays child support to the lower earner.
Use Custody X Change software to create a custody schedule that will quickly calculate the total parenting time for the Washington, D.C. child support formula.
As you negotiate what kind of custody schedule will best fit your needs, the software will accurately calculate your overnights.