Recognizing the Need For A Divorce

Recognizing the Need For A Divorce

Child Support: Who Owes What?

Jackson Robinson

If you and your spouse are divorcing, you probably already realize that working out some issues in advance could help you to save time and money. Even potentially contentious issues like child visitation, custody and support should be discussed and worked out outside of court, if possible. While crafting your own custom-made divorce agreement is laudable, you should understand before you begin that certain issues must follow the law. The courts have stepped in and created mandates for determining how much child support should be paid. Make sure that you understand these guidelines and use them to set a fair, workable divorce agreement for both parties to abide by. Read on to gain a better understanding of how child support is determined.

Calculations and Mitigating Factors

While the federal government has provided family court judges with child support amount guidelines, the actual amounts vary from state to state since they are based on each state's median income. The payer, who is normally the higher earner of the two parents, is ordered to pay child support based on the amount of their income. It should be noted that these calculations are only the starting point for determining the exact amounts, and there are many off-setting factors, like:

  • The percentage of custody awarded to each parent.
  • The manner that income is calculated, with some states using the gross income and some using the net.
  • Any previously ordered child support payments for children of previous relationships. The previous court-ordered support payment must be up-to-date, and only the amount ordered can be used to offset the income. For example, voluntary amounts of support given over the ordered amounts are exempt.
  • Childcare expenses (from the income of the parent responsible for paying)
  • Health Insurance. Most divorce decrees contain a separate section that specifically addresses which parent pays for the child's health insurance, and that amount can be deducted from the income of that parent for child support calculation purposes.
  • Special expenses for a child with special needs, such as education expenses for a certain school or special transportation, can offset a parent's income. For example, payment for a specially-equipped van for a special needs child would be considered a factor.

The courts take a flexible approach to all matters concerning a minor child involved in a divorce situation, which means that as a parent's situation and income changes, the support orders may be amended . Be sure to discuss child support amounts and the mitigating factors with your family law attorney to learn more and to avoid any potential litigation in the future.


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About Me
Recognizing the Need For A Divorce

My husband and I had a great marriage for about ten years--that is, until he started cheating on me. I found out about it from a friend, and once I started peeling off the layers of my husband's lies, I realized that we hardly had anything to salvage in the first place. I decided that it would be best to get divorced, but I knew that it would be painful and difficult. This blog is for anyone out there who needs to gather the strength to get divorced. Check out these posts to learn more about the process and how the right lawyer can help.