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Do you have to pay child support in the summer?

When you and your ex-spouse first divorced, the kids were small. Your job kept you busy throughout the week, so it only made sense for the kids to spend most of their time with your ex. Your child support agreement appropriately reflected the fact that the kids were generally in your ex-spouse's care.

Well, things have changed. Your kids are older and you now take them for most of the summer to give your ex-spouse a break. Do you have to keep paying child support during the summer months? After all, with your kids with you for most of the summer, it may seem like you're paying support for no good reason (and that money could be useful elsewhere).

Yes, you must continue paying, right up until the court says otherwise.

Typically, child support is calculated to give credit to the noncustodial parent for the time they have overnight visitation with the kids. The remaining support payments are basically prorated throughout the year. If your current custody agreement reflects those summer vacation visits, your custody payment probably already reflects a break in the amount of support you'd otherwise pay.

What if you and your ex-spouse have fallen into some kind of informal agreement about the summer visits? On one hand, you get the benefit of having the kids for weeks at a time. On the other, you're paying more than your fair share of support. At that point, you can ask the court to make a modification to the amount of support that you pay based on the fact that custody has now changed. However, be mindful that might cause your ex-spouse to push back and put a halt to the extended visits.

If you're contemplating your options, it may be smart to speak with a family law attorney before you decide what steps to take.

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