How Child Support Is Determined

When awarding child support, the federal government mandates that states use consistent and predictable guidelines when determining the amount. Below, we give a brief rundown of the most common types of child support guidelines used throughout the country.

To learn more about how child support is determined by the courts, contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

Income

The court will consider both parents’ incomes when determining child support. Most states will look at the combined income of both parents and the percentage each parent contributes to make an accurate determination of the amount of child support needed. Keep in mind that some states use gross income to base their formula, while other states only use net income.

Deductions

Most guidelines allow a parent already making alimony or child support payments from earlier arrangements to deduct the amount they’re currently paying from their income. However, in order to qualify for that deduction, the following two conditions must be met:

  1. The support payments need to be court-ordered (not voluntary)
  2. The parent needs to actually follow through with making the payments

Take note that you cannot take deductions form your income for the support of any subsequent children or spouses.

Childcare Expenses

Many states also consider the amount parents spend on childcare when they’re working or are looking for work. Furthermore, some states take into account the federal dependant care exemption, found on federal income taxes, to adjust the allowed amount for childcare expenses. Likewise, states providing a dependent care exemption on their state income tax forms allow a reflection of this adjusted amount.

Healthcare Expenses

All child support orders also require determining who will be paying for the child’s health insurance. The cost of the child’s health insurance will be added to the basic support order, as well as credited to the paying parent. Many guidelines also require an additional amount of support for covering out of pocket healthcare expenses. Some states take into consideration extraordinary medical expenses. These will factor into how child support is determined.

Other Expenses

In some cases, a basic support order may see an increase in order to account for unusual expenses. For example, your basic support order may include expenses for special education needs for handicapped or gifted children. Also, if visitation from one parent or a child requires travel expenses, the court will divide those expenses between both parents based on their incomes. In these types of situations, a non-custodial parent might receive a credit in the amount of the travel expense belonging to the custodial parent.

Shared Visitation and Custody

In order to determine the child support award amount, courts account for how much time a child spends with both parents. For example, the longer a child spends with a non-custodial parent, the more money that parent will need in order to support that child. Furthermore, in situations involving joint custody or extended visitation, the awarded amount of child support will more than likely be less than in situations involving sole custody and sparse visitation.

When determining the awarded amount of child support, states will utilize child support guidelines. These guidelines are presumed to award the correct amount of child support. However, you can obtain a lower or higher amount than what the guidelines determine. Such cases require that you get a judicial determination of any extenuating factors that necessitate deriving from the presumed guidelines.

Speak to a Child Support Lawyer to Learn More About How Child Support Is Determined

To learn more about how child support is determined, contact an experienced child support lawyer at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks. We will help you figure out the correct child support payments required for your specific situation. Contact us today.