Big changes are making their way to Wyoming with regard to child support laws. Beginning July 1, 2018, Wyoming will have a new way of calculating child support for shared custody.
Wyoming uses an “Income Shares Model” to calculate child support, which is based on the concept that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income that he or she would have received if the parents lived together. Child support is calculated using the combined income of both parents and the number of children to calculate a presumptive amount of child support. The presumptive child support obligation is then divided between the parents in proportion to the combined net income. The parent who receives less parenting time pays the other parent the calculated amount.
Wyoming law has historically stated divided or shared custody was not favored. However, a recent court case, Bruegman v. Bruegman, published May 14, 2018, held that there is no presumption that shared custody is contrary to the best interests of the children, and shared custody should be considered on an equal footing with other forms of custody. In combination with changes by the legislature to Wyoming Statue § 20-2-304 (c), shared custody is now an available option that can benefit all involved parties.
Shared custody not only affects the amount of time the children spend with the parent, but it factors into child support calculations. Currently to avail a parent to a reduced child support payment for shared custody, the non-custodial parent must have the children for at least 40% of the year which is approximately 146 days per year. For example, the current child support obligation for one child with two parents who each have a net income of $2,000 a month is $392.79* by the noncustodial parent. The current child support payment for one child with two parents who each have a net income of $2,000 a month and shared custody is $70.70* by the noncustodial parent. This proverbial cliff is significant. As a result, parties have often been in the position where they are focused on manipulating the child’s visitation schedule to also manipulate their child support. This behavior is generally not in the best interest of the child.
The new law works to remove the proverbial cliff and encourage parents to focus on the best interests of the children. Under the new law, the child support obligation for one child with two parents who each have a net income of $2,000 a month, is $392.79* if the noncustodial parent physically has the child for 92 days or less. However, the child support payment for one child with two parents who each have a net income of $2,000 a month and shared custody, which will now be anything over 92 days, will start at $288.94 and can go down to $1.61* depending on the number of days spent with each parent.
Though there are still some nuances that need to be worked out, people who are receiving or paying child support should be aware of the major changes that are taking place over the next couple of years in the state of Wyoming. If you believe these new changes may affect you or you have questions concerning child support, divorce, or family law, please contact our office to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys at 307-432-9399.
*(Child support calculations are affected by more than just raw numbers, as other factors may affect the actual amount calculated and an attorney would need to know the specifics of your situation to calculate an exact amount.)