If you are a couple divorcing with minor children, the issues of child custody, support and visitation are vital areas of concern with both you and the courts. While you are permitted to hammer out your own agreements about marital property, marital debt and visitation, child support is a different matter. For more information about how child support is determined, read on.
Federal Child Support Guidelines
The Federal government has established state-specific guidelines for child support calculations in an effort to provide some consistency for judges. Child support is usually awarded to the parent who gets physical custody of the child and is always based on the income of the parents.
The calculations, it should be noted, are rough estimates and may be offset by many factors such as types of income, shared custody situations, and special expense circumstances such as a child with special needs. The major factors used in calculating child support are:
- The incomes of both parents are considered, and the higher-earner may be required to pay a greater share. The amounts are calculated using either net or gross income, depending upon the state.
- The amount of any court-ordered child support payments for other children may be deducted from the income. Any voluntary payments cannot be deducted, and all payments must be up-to-date.
- The parent who pays for any childcare may deduct that from their income.
- One parent will be responsible for paying for the child's healthcare coverage, and this issue will be included in the support order.
- Other miscellaneous expenses may be included, if needed, such as travel expenses for custody arrangements and visitation and educational expenses for private school.
- In some states, the best interest of the child doctrine necessitates that there be specific language to address college finances for the child and will specify the percentage or amount of contributions for each parent, which continues until the child is of a certain age. While the child cannot be compelled to attend college through a court order, the courts do want to make certain that the child is not put to a disadvantage due to being from a divorced family.
The courts never close issues that pertain to the health and well-being of a child. This allows both parents to re-visit custody, support and visitation issues when needed and gives courts the ability to oversee the best interest of the child on a continuing basis. The calculations for child support can be complex, so consult with a family law attorney in your state to get the most up-to-date and accurate information.
For more information, contact Pagel Family Law or a similar firm.