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HOW ARE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS DETERMINED?
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Legal Playground Blog

Legal Playground Blog



Aug 11
2011

HOW ARE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS DETERMINED?

Posted by: GuestBlogCommunity

Tagged in: Child Support

GuestBlogCommunity

HOW ARE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS DETERMINED?

The U.S. government requires each state to have Child Support Guidelines which help determine the amount of child support to be paid.  Computation of child support can get complicated - that’s why you need a good family law attorney to assist you. Although the guidelines may be different for each state, all of the states consider similar issues when determining child support such as:

Income.  Most of the guidelines take into consideration the income of both parents. The percentage of the couple's combined income which each parent contributes to the family helps determine the amount they will be obligated to pay in child support. Some states will base their formula on gross income, while others will use net income.

Deductions.  In situations where a parent is already paying child support or alimony from another relationship, they will generally be given credit for that amount against their new obligation. However, there are usually two requirements to qualify for this deduction: 1) the support payments must be court-ordered rather than voluntary and; 2) the parent must actually be making the payments.

Childcare Expense.
  Most states take into consideration the amount that parents must spend on childcare in order to work or look for work. Some states will adjust the amount allowed for this expense to account for the federal dependant care exemption on federal income taxes. In states that provide a dependent care exemption on state income taxes, the expense may be adjusted to reflect this as well.

Healthcare Expense.  The child support order needs to spell out who will pay for the children's health insurance. The amount spent on health insurance is usually added to the basic child support order and then credited to the parent who pays it.  The guidelines in many states call for a certain amount of additional support to cover out of pocket health care expenses that may be incurred. Extraordinary medical expenses will be taken into consideration as well.

Additional Expenses.  The basic child support order may also be increased to account for other unusual expenses such as special educational needs of gifted or handicapped children. The cost of visitation expenses, such as travel for the parent or child, are usually divided between the parents in proportion to their incomes. The non-custodial parent would then receive a credit for the amount of this expense that belongs to the custodial parent.

Shared Custody and Visitation.  Many of the guidelines try to account for the amount of time that the children spend with each parent in determining the amount of the child support award. The more time that the children spend with the non-custodial parent, the more expenses that parent incurs to support he children. In situations where there is shared custody or extensive visitation, the amount of child support awarded will probably be less than in situations where there is sole custody and little visitation.

Variances from the Guidelines.  There is a presumption in most divorce actions that the Child Support Guidelines provide the correct amount to be paid. However, it is possible to obtain an award that is higher or lower than the amount determined by the guidelines. This will require a judge to examine unusual factors that require a deviation from the guidelines. To do this, you need the help of a good divorce attorney.