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The Basics of Child Support

Published by in Family Law ·
Tags: ChildSupport

The issue of child support is one that garners a lot of questions. From how it is calculated to what happens if you cannot pay. Child support is a major financial consideration parents face when going through a divorce.

Gaining an understanding of the facts and figures used to calculate child support can clear up any misconceptions and avoid unexpected results should the issue end up in court.

Although child support calculations, or formulas as they are commonly called, vary from state to state, you can protect yourself and your children’s best interests by arming yourself with a basic understanding of the factors that determine child support.

Your Custody Arrangement Will Affect Child Support

Before child support can be calculated, custody needs to be established.

Although custody and child support are two separate legal issues, a custody agreement will directly affect a child support order since one parent will be labeled the custodial parent and the other the noncustodial parent.

What It Means To Be The Noncustodial Parent

Typically, children live with the noncustodial parent on a part-time basis. Under this arrangement, a financial partnership is established with the custodial parent. This provides support for children that do not live with one parent full time.

Because the custodial parent has the children in their custody for the majority of the time, they are considered the primary caretaker and are the ones who receive child support. The noncustodial parent is responsible for making child support payments to help cover maintenance, lifestyle, and education costs.

This kind of agreement, where parents share custody, is commonly referred to as a joint custody arrangement. When a joint custody agreement is in place, the income of each parent and the percentage of time each child is in their custody are typically used to determine child support obligations.

This is why you should first establish custody before determining support: The amount of time the children spend with the noncustodial parent versus the custodial parent will directly affect the support order.

Why Do You Need to Pay Child Support?

Child support formulas vary by state. However, family courts will evaluate certain factors in order to arrive at a final child support award.

Some things courts take into consideration when determining child support:

+ The standard of living of the children
+ The necessary expenses of the children (health insurance, education costs, day care)
+ The custodial parent’s income
+ The noncustodial parent’s income and ability to pay

In making their determination, courts will need to have a detailed account of both parents’ income and any expenses needed to raise the children.

How Much Child Support Will You Have to Pay?

Although a custody arrangement needs to be in place before awarding child support, the percentage of time children spend with each parent is secondary to monetary considerations.

In other words, courts will first take into account the income of parents and then make adjustments based on custody arrangements. So, the more time you have custody of your children, the less child support you will have to pay.

Protect Your Interests

Understanding the facts and figures that go into calculating child support, both monetary and non-monetary, allows you to understand what is and isn’t a fair determination of support.

No matter the arrangement, keep in mind that an effective child support order is one that protects the financial interests of you and your children.

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