The Multiple Family Application Rule

Multiple FamilyThe Multiple Family Application rule (MFA) is intended to take into account the additional support obligations of a non-primary custodial parent (NCP) imposed by the presence of additional children in the NCP’s household brought about by the adoption or birth of additional children to the NCP. The MFA is normally available only as a defensive response when the primary custodial parent seeks a change (typically an increase) in child support from the NCP for the children of their relationship (the “mutual children”).

Ordinarily, of course, the application of the MFA reduces the support obligation of the NCP for the mutual children (through the application of a child support table for the total number of children which reduces the amount of support for each of the mutual children) in recognition that the NCP has increased support responsibilities.

Although some have (mis)understood the effect of the MFA as one of raising the custodial parent’s support obligation for the mutual children, that is neither the effect, nor the intent. Since the application of the MFA results in a reduced support level for the mutual children (through the application of a support table reflecting the additional children – hence, a larger family), it reduces both parent’s obligations, not just the NCP’s.

Note that the MFA is only available to a NCP. If both parents are designated as primary custodians (seemingly possible under 60-1610(a)(5)), then the MFA provisions would appear to be inapplicable:

The Multiple-Family Application may be used to adjust the child support obligation of the parent not having primary residency when that parent has legal financial responsibility for the support of other children who reside with that parent. The Multiple-Family Application may be used only by a parent not having primary residency when establishing an original order of child support or an increase in support is sought by the parent having primary residency. (Guidelines, Sec. III. B.6)

Confusion sometimes arises, however, when the MFA is to be applied in creative custodial arrangements.

Divided Custody.  How is the MFA to be applied in a divided custody arrangement where each parent has primary custody of one or more (but not all) of the mutual children?  The Guidelines direct that a child support worksheet should be prepared for each household, using the support schedule for just the number of mutual children in each household. The support obligations of the parents are then netted together (larger minus smaller) with the parent with the higher obligation paying the difference to the other parent. Application of the MFA to the worksheet for either household has the same effect as it does in a non-divided custody.

Equal Parenting Time. But how is the MFA applied where the parents have an Equal Parenting Time (EPT) arrangement and then one of the parents acquires an additional child? Where the parents have an EPT arrangement, the application of the MFA still reduces the support obligation of whichever parent is designated as the NCP (a primary custodial parent still has to be designated, even with an EPT. KSA 60-1610, (a)(5)).

Anomalous and surprising results, however, can arise from the presence of other circumstances. For example, consider the following scenario:

Assume Mom and Dad have two mutual children and Dad is the designated primary custodian. The parents have an EPT arrangement sharing time equally, and then Mom remarries and has a child. As the NCP of the mutual children, Mom could qualify for the MFA, which should reduce her child support payments to Dad. But in the EPT rules, if Dad has the higher support obligation on Line F. 3 (perhaps because he has a substantially higher income than Mom), Dad would end up sending child support to Mom. And if the Court designates Dad to pay the children’s direct expenses (which would ordinarily be Mom’s responsibility as the recipient of the child support from Dad), then Dad gets a credit based on the MFA-reduced child support total for the mutual children on Line. D.3!!

About Brad Short

CEO : Bradley Software; Of Counsel at Short, Borth & Thilges, Attorneys at Law, LLC, Overland Park, Kansas. Born Birmingham, Alabama, December 27, 1941; admitted to bar,1966, Kansas and U.S. District Court, District of Kansas; 1975, U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit; 1976, U.S. Supreme Court. Education: University of Colorado (B.A., 1963; J.D., 1966). Contributing Author, Practitioner's Guide to Kansas Family Law, Kansas Bar Association, 1997. Listed in: The Best Lawyers in America, Family Law, every year from 1987 through 2013. Member, Technology Advisory Committee, Kansas Judicial Council, 1991-1998. Member: Bourbon County, 1966-1977 (President, 1970-1971), Johnson County (Member: Ethics and Grievance Committee, 1984-1998; Family Law Bench/Bar Committee, 1984-), Kansas and American (Vice-Chair, Solo Practitioners and Small Firms Committee, Economics of Law Practice Section, 1984-1985) Bar Associations; Kansas Trial Lawyers Association, 1974-1984 (State Treasurer, 1975-76; Member, Board of Governors, 1974-1984). Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 1994-2013 . Practice areas: Family Law.
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