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How to calculate child support

Different states follow considerably different formulae when calculating child support. The general criteria as to what needs to be considered remain primarily similar across states. This includes

  • The income of the supporting parent.
  • The needs of the supporting parent.
  • The financial needs of the child such as education, daycare, health/life insurance or any special needs.
  • The child's standard of living before separation or divorce.
  • The income of the parent paying child support and their ability to pay for it.

Both parents are required to give a detailed documentation of their monthly incomes and expenses. The basic cost of living regarding food, shelter and clothing is considered. Other mandatory expenses such as Social Security and taxes are also deducted to arrive at a net income which determines the true ability of a parent to pay for child support. If a parent is already paying child support for another child, this is also included in mandatory deductions in most states. Other loan payments may or may not be considered depending on the court.

In cases of sole custody, the parent with custody is considered to be fulfilling their child support responsibilities by the custody of the child. The other parent typically pays for child support. When joint custody is granted, the earnings of both the parents as well as the time spent with the child by each parent are considered when determining child support costs.

Child support orders may be subject to change by the court in cases of certain events such as increased needs of the child, change in income of either parent, disability incurred by either parent or increased costs of living in general. Temporary modifications may be granted if the paying parent is unable to pay due to illness or temporary unemployment, temporary financial distress of the parent with custody and most importantly any medical emergency sustained by the child.

Matters involving child support can be complex as different states calculate child support differently. If you are a supporting parent who has questions or needs to claim child support you should contact a family law attorney. An attorney will review your case and represent you in court keeping in mind your needs and the those of your child.

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