BLENDED FAMILY v.

WHOLE FAMILY FORMULAS FOR CHILD SUPPORT
A. Background The Blended Family Formula and the Whole Family Method are two very different ways to calculate a child support deviation when other children are at issue. The Whole Family Method is currently the widely accepted way to calculate this deviation. The Department of Family Services (formerly OSE) has adopted the Whole Family Method via a memo that became effective September 29, 1993. Conversely, the Blended Family Formula has never been a good way to calculate this deviation, especially when both parents have income. In fact, if both parents have a reasonable amount of income, the Blended Family Formula will actually increase the child support transfer payment -even when the obligor has up to two children from another marriage. B. Example Exposing Logical Flaw in Blended Family Formula Child support is being determined in the case of James Smith and Mary Smith. They have one child, Jeffery, age 4. James net income is $2000 per month and Mary’s net income is $2,100. James and Mary are separated. Jeffery is living with Mary. James has two children, ages 9 and 11, who live with him from a previous marriage. Transfer Payment Using Child Support Guidelines: $304.02 $331.00 Transfer Payment Using Whole Family Method Deviation: $197.15 Transfer Payment Using Blended Family Formula Deviation: The Blended Family Formula actually increases the child support amount and is therefore useless for calculating a deviation when children from other relationships are at issue and both parents earn a reasonable amount of income. C. Description of Logical Flaw in Blended Family Formula The Blended Family Formula calculates each parent’s child support obligation separately -- using each parent’s separate net income when looking up the child support amount on the Child Support Table. The Child Support Table, however, increases the percentage of child support to income as income goes down. Since each parent’s separate income is less than their combined income figure, a parent’s percentage of support to income is increased when their separate net income is used to reference the table. A comparison of this is provided below: Combined Calculation: Child support amount for combined net income of $4100: $623.00 (15.2%) Separate Calculation: Child support for James’s income of $2000: Child Support for Mary’s income of $2100: ======= Combined Child Support Obligation: $874.00 (21.3%) $427.00 (21.4%) $447.00 (21.3%)

This example demonstrates how using separate income will increase each parent’s percentage of child support owed. The Blended Family Formula does attempt to mitigate the child support increase by referencing the child support table with additional children -- the children from “other” relationships. The per child support amount on the Economic Table is reduced as the number of children increase. If enough “other” children are be used when referencing the table, the child support increase may theoretically be offset. In most cases, however, the 1/2 child credit per other child credit does not offset the increased in child support amount calculated on separate income. The one case where the Blended Family Formula will work is when the Obligor earns 90%-100% of the combined income of the parents. The logical flaw in the Blended Family Formula has led to its rejection from popular use. The only reason this formula was included in SupportCalc is that it may be useful in old cases or in cases when the obligor earns 90%-100% of the income. Due to widespread misunderstanding, the Blended Family Formula is sometimes ordered by the courts in current child support cases. The Blended Family Formula is maintained in SupportCalc for this reason as well. D. The Whole Family Method as a Replacement The Whole Family Formula has corrected the Blended Family Formula’s flaw because the Whole Family Method uses both parent’s combined net income to reference the Economic Table. The Whole Family method reduces the transfer payment by determining a per child support amount based upon ALL children for whom the obligor is responsible. In the example of James and Mary Smith, the per child amount James owes for Jeffery is lower when the table is referenced using three children than when the table is reference for just one child. The chart below shows this: Jeffery’s Basic Child Support using 1 child: $623.00 Jeffery’s Basic Child Support using 3 children: $404.00 E. Conclusion The Whole Family Method has effectively replaced the Blended Family Formula for determining a deviation based upon other children for whom the obligor is responsible. The Blended Family Formula is provided in SupportCalc as a service to users so they may be prepared if the Blended Family Formula becomes an issue of a case. F. Other States’ Methods Since we have written software for other states, we do have a perspective on how other states calculate the second family issue. A common method used by many states is called the “Other Dependent Deduction.” SupportCalc for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, calculates this “Other Dependent Deduction.” The Other Dependent Deduction creates a theoretical child support worksheet for each parent’s “second family children,” using the incomes of the parents of those second family children. The theoretical support amount from this worksheet becomes a deduction for each parent on the main worksheet. When applying the Other Dependent Deduction, each state does applies some method for reducing preferential treatment to the children from the second family. Here’s the problem: If a 100%

deduction were given for the second family children, some argue that the second family children have been given preferential treatment. New Jersey solves this problem by calculating the main worksheet with the Other Dependent Deduction and then recalculating the main worksheet without the Other Dependent Deduction. Then the amounts are averaged to determine the child support amount. In West Virginia, the Other Dependent Deduction amount is simply multiplied by .75 for each parent before placed as a deduction on the main worksheet. In Pennsylvania, 100% of the Other Dependent Deduction is applied unless this is a low-income situation. In low-income situations, the ODD is reduced based upon its impact upon a low-income obligee parent. Steve & Tim Sooter Legal+Plus Software www.legalsoft.com

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