The Basics of Child Support

Child support negotiations are often heavily contested legal cases, which may seem counter-intuitive. You would think that figuring most child support sums would be a matter of basic calculations. However, child support is based on the best interest of the child, and the court has to take the necessary time and steps to make such a determination. 

There is no national guideline for child support.

Every individual US state has different guidelines, formulas, and methods for determining child support. Cases in two different states can have significantly varying results when it comes to child support payments. Although each state has different guidelines, most states follow one of three basic models: 

  • Income shares, which is based on the income of both parents (the majority of states follow this method)
  • Flat percentage, which is based on a fixed percentage of the noncustodial parent’s earnings
  • Melson formula, which is based on a wide range of different factors such as income and the needs of the child or children

An experienced child support attorney can help you know and understand which model your state follows.

Only a limited number of expenses are considered when calculating child support.

Most methods look to each parent’s normal take-home pay after taxes and payroll deductions. Other primary expenses, such as health insurance for the child and even daycare costs, might be considered. But if you have credit card debt or are paying a hefty mortgage sum on a home, you won’t necessarily catch a break on your child support obligation. This prevents parties who might be obliged to pay a specific amount from going out and purchasing an expensive car or home in an attempt to avoid making child support payments.

Child support will end eventually.

Although each state has variations, the general rule of thumb is that child support payments will stop when the child graduates high school or reaches the age of 18, whichever comes first. This does not always happen if child support payments are being withdrawn from the noncustodial parent’s paycheck automatically. The paying parent will likely want to notify the appropriate Office of Child Support to have those payments terminated. 

In many states, a custodial parent can claim back child support against the noncustodial parent throughout the child’s entire age as a minor, and frequently a few years beyond. This is a situation that often arises between parties who do not marry. The obligation of child support is owed to the child, rather than the custodial parent, and the noncustodial parent has no right to waive this option. 

Child support can always be modified.

Child support payments can be adjusted either up or down, depending on the numbers. The parent requesting modification has to show a significant change in their circumstances. A change in circumstances could be anything, such as the obligor parent losing their job, the child developing poor health (with increased expenses), and the promotion or pay increase for a parent. 

Any change in child support payments must be done with a court order. You could successfully navigate these changes or any other child support issues with the help of a qualified and experienced child support attorney. For further information, schedule a consultation with a lawyer, like a divorce lawyer from Robinson & Hadeed, today.