How Exactly Does The Court Determine Child Support?
Every state has its own set of rules and guidelines when it comes to monthly child support payments. While talking to a lawyer who has experience with child support and local child support laws is going to be the best way to get an idea of exactly how much child support you could be entitled to, here is a rough idea of what the courts in all states look at when determining the amount.
First, Your Income Is Considered
The first, and typically most important, factor to consider when determining child support is income. The court is going to want to know exactly how much money both parents make every month. Whether calculations to determine how much child support is owed relies on a formula using gross income or net income does vary depending on which state you live in. It is, however, important to keep in mind the court will usually only look at taxed income. This means if you or your spouse has a job under the table, it may not be considered when determining how much child support is owed.
Second, Support Orders Are Considered
If one of the parents is already responsible for a child support payment or an alimony payment, this information will be considered when making the determination. In most cases, the parent will be allowed to subtract any alimony or child support payments from his/her reported income. It is, however, important to keep in mind the support payments must be court ordered in order for them to be factored in. The parent must also actively be making payments on the support order.
Third, The Child's Financial Needs Are Considered
A judge is also going to want to look at how much it costs to provide care for your child. This includes the need for child care and if your child has any kind of special healthcare needs. If the parent with custody had to pay for childcare services because he/she works, the other parent would be responsible for providing part of the money required to pay for the childcare services. If a child is special needs and requires therapy or has a need for special medication, this information would also be factored into how much it costs to provide proper care for the child.
Child support exists because taking care of a child is expensive. Furthermore, unless a parent gives up his/her parental rights to a child, he/she has a legal responsibility to help support the child financially. Whether you are on the giving or receiving end of child support, it can be helpful to understand how it is determined.