Summer vacation is a great opportunity for non-custodial parents to enjoy quality time with their children. Over the summer, it is common for children to spend weeks or even months with their non-custodial parent, giving the family time to go on vacation or simply spend time bonding with each other.

With so much time together, it may seem unnecessary to pay child support to the parent who is not currently caring for the children. After all, the non-custodial parent would be both paying for the children’s expenses over the summer break in addition to making child support payments. When a non-custodial parent has the children for an extended period of time, does that parent still need to pay child support to the custodial parent?

The short answer is “yes.” Child support can be a complicated issue and involves several factors when it is set by the court.

The initial amount of child support is set by statute and determined by the combined net income of the parents, the number of children, and the ages of the children. This standard calculation, however, does not take into consideration any time spent with the non-residential parent.

Because the courts are not completely heartless, there is a way to factor in significant amounts of time spent with the non-residential parent. This is done by asking for a deviation at the time that child support is set.

The deviation from the standard child support payment may not be much and is not guaranteed. A deviation will only be granted if it does not negatively affect the household of the residential parent and the children. For example, if the residential parent still maintains a single income household because he or she has not remarried and the parent obligated to pay child support has significant income or has remarried and his or her spouse has significant income, the court will be less likely to grant a deviation.

An experienced family law attorney can help you and your former partner plan for summer vacation and other significant amounts of time the children spend with you in your parenting plan and child support order. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we help parents work with each other to create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your children. Through mediation, negotiation, or litigation if necessary, our knowledgeable Washington family law attorneys will take your side and help you through difficult situations.

If you would like more information about parenting plans, child support, visitation, or any other family law issue, call 509-572-3700 to schedule your appointment today.