Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”)
Calculating the Amount of Child Support
McGraw Law Offers Answers on Calculating the Child Support Amount
Q: How is the Amount of Child Support Determined?
A: Federal law now requires that the amount of a child support payment be set under a guideline. Having a guideline is to prevent different amounts of child support ordered from courtroom to courtroom. Guidelines provide a goal basis for the determination of the amount of support paid. As a result, most states have established formulas to determine the amount of the payment from one parent to the other.
Q: What Income Items Do Typical Formulas Cover?
A: The formula is about the respective net incomes of the parents. Mandatory expenses are subtracted from a parent’s gross income to arrive at his/her net income.
Q: What Other Items Do Formulas Consider?
A: Spending More Time with the Child
Besides the respective net incomes of the parents, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, will factor into the formula. Since a parent who spends more time with the child is most likely incurring greater expense in raising the child, the “custodial parent” will be responsible for the child.
Number of Children
Along with the amount of time that a parent spends with a child, the number of children in common between the parents is often considered. Certain fixed expenses do not rise with the number of children that need support. So, the actual amount of support per child is lower given the greater number of children in common.
Special circumstances may need a greater amount of child support paid. Special circumstances, can affect the amount of guideline child support paid. These special circumstance include:
Extraordinary Medical Expenses
Special Educational Needs
Travel Expenses Incurred for Child Visitation
Uninsured Catastrophic Losses
The Cost of Basic Living Expenses for Children from Another Relationship
Since there are many factors that go into the formula to determine guideline child support, some states have approved computer programs designed for determining the amount of child support. Proper analysis of all the factors can have dramatic effect upon the determination of the guideline child support amount.
Q: How Do You Show Income?
A: The court needs documentary evidence, to produce and considered certified as true under penalty of perjury. The intent is that all income received by a parent will become considered when his/her net income is being calculated.
Q: What About Allocation of Standard of Living?
A: Each parent is to pay for child support according to his or her ability and “circumstances and station in life.” A parent with the higher standard of living has the obligation to ensure his or her children share in that lifestyle. A non-custodial parent cannot pay child support forcefully, beyond his or her means to match the custodial parent’s new “station in life.”
Q: Can a Parent Limit the Amount of Future Child Support That is to Paid to the Other (Custodial) Parent?
A: Child support is always in the best interests of the child. To limit the amount of future child support payments, all involved must consider the interests of the child. A disinterested Guardian Ad Litem for the child would have to become appointed. They must represent to the court that the best interest of the child would be to limit such future support payments. This would expose the Guardian Ad Litem to the possibility of a future claim by a former child. Some states, will consider an argument that if there is a high level of income/wealth by one or both parents, a limit to the amount of support is proper.