Summer Break…from Child Support?

Every year around this time I am asked if it would be appropriate for a parent to receive a reduction or abatement in child support during extended summer visitation when the children are not with the parent who normally receives child support. There is, of course, logic behind this question. Why should Mom receive child support during the summer when the kids are primarily with Dad?

The Nevada Supreme Court has already answered this question for us in the case of Anastassatos v. Anastassatos, 112 Nev. 317, 913 P.2d 652 (1996) where the district court had awarded the father abatement in child support during summer visitation. The Nevada Supreme Court reversed the district court, stating that the district court had abused its discretion, noting that the primary physical custodian’s expenses do not go down just because the children are visiting the other parent.

In other words, while the Dad’s expenses certainly go up when children are under his roof, Mom’s expenses do not necessarily go down when they are visiting Dad. But is this fair? Extended visitation comes at a price. The kids need summer clothes, teenagers eat as much as two adults, kids are out of school so they need increased activities and let’s not even talk about how much it costs to send kids to summer camp these days. Dad diligently pays his child support every month and it is part of his budget, now his budget must be increased to take care of the kids during his time, in addition to paying Mom child support.

It seems as though Mom gets a windfall in this situation, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t Mom be paying temporary child support to Dad in this situation? Does this discourage Dad from exercising extended visitation with the kids? There are many things wrong with our child support formula in Nevada and this indeed may be one of the problems.

The best advice I can give to work around this issue is to make sure that when entering into marital settlement agreements and parenting plans, you take this issue into account. Although a Court may not order abatement of child support, abatement will be enforced if the parties so stipulate. If you know that you will have the children for the summer, have your attorney negotiate an abatement into the agreement.

Jessica H. Anderson
Family Law Attorney Reno, NV