If you have children and are currently going through a divorce or a break-up, you’ve probably already thought about child support. Even though the payment goes directly to the child’s primary caregiver it is not theirs. Child support is the child’s right, not the other parent’s. Child support obligations typically continue until the child is 18 or until they graduate high-school. Some states even require child support to be continued through college.
To put any question of unfairness to bed, courts have a specific way they determine the amount of support that should be given in every case. We will go into more detail below.
For both parents their income, other dependents, nights the child will spend at each of them, health care costs, as well as child care expenses, are all factored into the equation by the court when deciding on fair child support. In some cases, parents can agree to who pays what and they do not need the court to dictate. A family lawyer is a great way to go when trying to decide on the best course of action and you can read at https://btlfamilylaw.com about how they can make this process easier.
For now, we will explore the aforementioned factors in more detail below.
The first and usually most important factor in a child support case is the income of each parent. At the beginning of the proceedings both parents must submit the following to the court:
- Recent W-2 tax documentation
- Pay stubs to show hourly rate or salary, hours worked, and tax exemptions
- Any other documents showing income, including wages, overtime pay, tips, gratuities, payment from an IRA, rental income, bonuses, commissions, or any other money from ALL employers.
If a parent is self-employed, the court will review their tax returns to determine their income.
One of the most controversial aspects of determining child support is when one parent believes the other is underemployed or unemployed voluntarily. Family court judges are there to evaluate whether one parent is working to the best of their abilities and not taking advantage of the situation at hand.
If a judge finds that a parent is purposely earning less, or is voluntarily unemployed, the court may calculate what the parent should or could be earning if applying their education and job skills appropriately and use that number as the parent’s income when determining child support.
A list of dependents and their information will be requested from each parent before the court can calculate support. If one of the parents has other children and is legally obligated to support the other children, the court will consider this and will play a role in the outcome of any other child support case.
The number of overnight visits with each parent is taken into consideration. The point of quantifying overnight visits is to give credit to each parent for the amount of time they are financially responsible for the child. If one parent has sole custody of the child and the other sees the child once a week for a non-overnight dinner visit, the court allocates the proper amount of support to the custodial parent and primary caregiver.
If both parents share equal financial responsibility for the child and share physical and legal custody, the recipient parent may only require a small award to support the child financially. It’s a common misconception that parents who share physical and legal custody won’t receive or pay child support.
Health Care Costs
If one parent is paying for the child’s health care this will almost always act in their favor and as a credit when calculating who should pay what. You are required to prove this with evidence of the payroll deduction or amount you pay each month in health care for this to be considered.
Child Care Expense
Child care is one of the most expensive aspects of raising a child. Full-time daycare can cost a lot and if one parent carries this burden the court will consider it.
If you and your ex can’t agree on an amount of child support, the court will be able to decide for you in a strict fairway. Judges won’t deviate from the typical formula unless a parent demonstrates that there are circumstances that require deviation from the norm. If you are considering asking for child support or the other parent is requesting payment, contact a family lawyer for info on your state-specific laws.