How to Calculate Child Support

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How to Calculate Child Support

Calculating child support is a very precise process that requires a consideration of many different factors. These factors are related to the child, the paying parent, and the parent who has custody of the child. According to the federal Child Support Enforcement Act, each state has developed guidelines to calculate how child support is suppose to be paid and how much should be paid.

The most common guideline and formula that each state follows is based on the parent's income and expenses. Some states allow the judge to look at all the documents and information and set the actual amount as long as the state guidelines is followed. Other states have a more strict guidelines in place which does not allow the judge to make any decisions regarding the amount of payments.

The guidelines and formulas that is commonly used in most states that must be considered determining who pays how much child support usually include:

1) Needs of the Child: The courts look at what the financial needs of the child is which includes expenses such as education costs, health insurance, day care, special needs, food, rent, and any care-taking expenses that is incurred by the custodial parent.

2) Income and Needs of the Custodial Parent: The parent that has custody of the child usually incurs most of the expenses of the child since they have more time with the child and the child spends most of the time at the custodial parents home. The custodial parent incurs expenses for taking care of the child which include rent, food, transportation cost, etc.

3) Paying Parent's Ability to Pay: The income of the parent that is making the payments is also considered because the court always wants to ensure that the child custody payments are fair to both parents. If the child support payments is too high for the paying parent, then the court allows the parent to modify to lower payments.

4) Child's Standard of Living before Divorce: The court always wants to ensure that the divorce or separation does not have a big impact on the child. They want the child to still enjoy and live the same standard of living as they did before the divorce.

5) Family's Pre-Divorce Standard of Living: The court will attempt to continue to try and achieve the same standard of living that the family had prior to the divorce. Since the family had a combined income that the child had access to, the court wants to maintain that status.

What Information Should I Provide to Help Calculate Child Support Payments?

The more information that you provide the courts about your income and expenses, the easier it would allow the court to determine a fair and equal calculation of child support payments. Some tips to consider when calculating child support include:

What Is the Formula to Calculate Child Support Payments?

Each state has their own different formula that is used to calculate child support payments. You must look on your state's child support guidelines to determine the methods used. There are some common formulas that all states used.

Child Support payments also depend on whether one party has sole custody or whether both parents are awarded joint custody. When one party has sole custody, the other parent has to pay more child support for the expenses that custodial parent incurs. When joint custody is awarded, the calculation of the child custody depends on how much each party earns and how much time the child spend with each parent.

How Is Income Used to Calculate Child Support Payments?

The courts will look at each parent's income to calculate the child support payments. The parent earning more than the other parent usually has to make the parents to support the child financial needs and the other parent's expenses incurred in taking care of the child. The court also looks at what the parent could earn versus what they actually earn. A parent should not avoid making a lesser income in order not to pay child support. If the parent is not looking for employment or is avoiding getting employment, the courts will consider this as unfair.

What Other Factors Are Considered When Calculating Child Support?

Also, you need to understand that child support laws are different in each state. For instance, calculating child support in New York may involve a very different process than the one in California. This can have several implications, especially if one of the parents lives out of state.

Each child support case is different, and also involves what is called the "judge’s discretion." This means that the judge has some leeway to make a determination based on each individual case. Rather than following strict formulas, the judge will often look at the entire situation, and make a determination based on need as they perceive it.

Can I Change My Child Support Payments?

If you and the other child's parent agree on modifying the child support payments after it has been determined by the court, you can change it. However, the approved modification between the parents must also be approved by the judge.

If the other parent does not agree on the change, you can still change it by requesting a court hearing where you can provide enough information convincing the court why you need the modification of the existing child support payment agreement. A court will not change a existing child support payment unless the parent show that there has been a significant change in circumstance.

What Are Support Guidelines?

On a related note, judges also employ child support guidelines to help them determine child support figures. These are a set of rules and principles that suggest figures and methods for calculating child support. Again, child support guidelines are different in each state. If you have further questions, it may be necessary to seek professional guidance when calculating child support.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Child Support Calculations?

Child support is very important for the proper upbringing of the child or children involved. It’s in your best interests to seek and hire a qualified family law attorney in your state who knows the laws in your area. A qualified lawyer will be familiar with the guidelines in your area, and can help you with your court filings. Also, in the event of a support contest, your lawyer can represent you in a court of law.

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Last Modified: 04-03-2015 11:28 AM PDT

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