Parents of minor children that are undergoing divorce have many important issues before them, namely child visitation, custody and support. You may already know that if you and your spouse can agree on issues ahead of time and outside the purview of the court, you can save yourselves a lot of time, money and stress. When it comes to deciding on child support, however, there are special rules and guidelines in place to assist family court judges in determining the amount of child support owed by the non-custodial parent. Read on to find out how child support is determined.
Child Support Calculations
Each state has different guidelines for determining child support payments, but all states use an income-based calculation. The federal government has established a calculation tool which judges use, and which also may be accessed by any interested parties.
The statutory guidelines are simply a tool for judges to use, and income is only one of many factors that must be taken into account before the final payment amount is ruled upon by the court. Your particular case could involve
Major Factors in Child Support Calculations
- Income: States vary when it comes to how they evaluate your income, with some states using your net pay amount and some using gross pay amounts. It should be noted that the income of both parents is used in the calculation, and the parent with the higher income is usually ordered to pay more.
- Court-ordered support payments: A parent who has already been ordered to pay child support or spousal support may deduct the amount of the court-ordered payment from the income calculation. All payments must be up to date and any voluntary or extra amounts of support cannot be deducted.
- Child care: The parent paying child care expenses may deduct that amount from their income.
- Healthcare: This obligation is addressed within the support order, which will specify which parent should be responsible for providing the coverage and for paying the premium. The amount of the premium becomes part of the support provided by that parent.
- Other: Support orders will often address other issues, such as travel expenses (in order to comply with custody arrangements) and providing for the medical and education requirements of a special needs child.
Provisions for minor children are one of the few issues in divorce that are always left open, since the needs of a child can grow and change as they do. Contact a family law attorney to get more state-specific information about how child support is determined in your state. To find out more, speak with someone like Franklin & Rapp.