How Is Child Support Calculated?

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Child Support Factors

The calculation of child support payments varies by state, as well as several other factors:
  • The number of children being supported as part of the calculation
  • The number of children being supported who are not subject to this calculation, but are born to or adopted by one or both parents
  • The time each parent spends with the child
  • Each parent’s income
  • Childcare expenses
  • Health Insurance expenses
In general, there are two different models that most states use to calculate child support payments. The Income Shares Model is the most common. However, the court has the power to use any method it feels is best, even if it differs from the state’s model.

The court also may base child support payments on other things such as the child’s standard of living before the parent’s divorced or the ability of the non-custodial parent to pay child support.

While there are many online calculator tools out there to help calculate child support expenses, they may not be entirely accurate because every court will interpret the rules differently, and every family’s situation is unique. There are also items that online calculators don’t take into consideration, like specialized healthcare or educational needs. A judge has the power to incorporate these into a child support calculation.

there are two different models that most states use to calculate child support payments

What percentage of income do you pay for child support?

Income Shares Model

In the Incomes Shares Model, the state adds your income and your spouse’s income together. Based on the percentage of income you contribute, that’s the percentage amount you pay in child support.

For example, you make $25,000 a year, and your spouse makes $50,000 a year, together you make $75,000. Your income is 33% of the $75,000. Your spouse’s income is 67% of the $75,000. You pay 33% of your child’s expenses for food, shelter, clothing, etc., and your spouse pays 67%, no matter what percentage of the time either of you has custody.

Percentage of Income Model

In the Percentage of Income Model, each parent is required to pay child support equal to a specific portion of his or her income. Some states alter the percentage depending on how much parenting time each parent has with the child, and others don’t.

For example, if you make $25,000 a year, and the percentage of income owed to child support in your state is 25% for one child, then you will pay $6,250 a year in child support.””

you and your spouse can negotiate your child support payments independently of the court

Is child support always ordered?

It is possible that if both you and your co-parent earn almost the same amount of income that neither of you will have to pay child support to the other.

Or, you and your spouse can negotiate your child support payments independently of the court, as part of your custody plan. Of course, the judge still has to approve the plan before your custody agreement is final.

It’s best to contact an experienced family law attorney in your area to learn more about how the court might calculate child support payments based on your specific situation.

TalkingParents blogs are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult with a qualified attorney regarding legal matters.

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