How Is Child Support Determined?

gavel and refrigerator magnet letters spelling "child support" atop hundred dollar bills

gavel and refrigerator magnet letters spelling "child support" atop hundred dollar bills

Different methods and formulas are used to determine the right amount of child support payments. Some courts will move away from a specific formula and impose another relatively fair amount while others might impose support obligations for a more extended period than what is required by law. Judges typically consider many aspects when deciding what the ideal amount of child support is but at the end of it all, what matters most is that it is done in the child’s best interests.

The court is tasked with ensuring that all the child’s financial needs are being catered for in a manner that is fair to all the parents. When it comes to determining child support, there are numerous aspects considered by a court. Here are some considerations that have an impact on child support determination.

Parental Income

Parental income is one of the most important considerations when determining child support. In most cases, the amount of child support greatly depends on the income of the parents. And with income, there are numerous aspects that are considered. To begin with, income could be the net income or gross income. Gross income is viewed as the take-home pay. In some cases, stock valuations, future income, and lottery winnings could be considered as income. Moreover, benefits such as military house allowance or using a company car could be viewed as income.

Most child support guidelines often require that the parent with more income pays higher child support. And the child support is to be paid for a specific period, as ordered by a court.

Child Support Formulas

Every state in the U.S. typically uses a different formula when determining child support obligations for both parents. In most cases, however, child support formulas determine child support based on:

• The amount of income of the parent who is supposed to pay support, while considering the number of children, or

• The total income of both parents considering the number of children borne by both parents

In some selected cases, a court could deviate from the conventional child support guidelines and order a higher level of support for:

• Increases educational or medical expenses

• Recreational activities, like after-school activities, sports camps, etc.

• The special-needs children, who could incur extra expenses, like expensive prescription medication or speech therapy.

In other cases, child support obligations could also be reduced for reasons like:

• A non-custodial parent’s role to offer support to a spouse and/or the child

• A Child’s new-discovered income, like a large inheritance

• Joint custody arrangements

Does the Cost of College Impact Child Support?

More often than not, child support obligations end when a child attains the age of maturity, which usually is 18 but could be 21 in some cases. Child support obligations for teens in college often depend on the state ordering the support. Some states will require child support through college while others might not. The rationale will be that the parents would still have supported the child through his college education had they remained married.

Per Child vs. Lump-Sum Child Support

If a parent is obliged to pay child support until the child attains 18 years, and the support order covers many children getting a lump-sum amount each month, such as $500 per month, the parent will continue to pay the amount until the youngest child reaches 18 years of age. However, if the support is a specific amount per child, the parent might reduce the per-child amount as every kid reaches 18 years. It is essential that you have a full understanding of the kind of child support payments prescribed by the court to avoid going against what the court requires. If you have problems understanding your child support payments, a family law attorney in Lees Summit, Missouri should be in a position to address all your questions.

What Happens To Child Support Payments When A Parent Loses Their Job?

Unemployment does not mean that you will be exempted from child support. Any unemployed parent should check with the state to inquire whether they are eligible for unemployment benefits. If they are entitled to some benefits, they can contact the unemployment office for the outstanding child support order. The child support payments will then be deducted from the guardian’s unemployment wages.

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