As you can imagine, any divorce issue that you and your spouse can agree upon outside of court can save both of you time and money and make for a smoother transition for everyone. Most of the contentious issues are also the most emotional, especially those issues revolving around your minor children, such as child custody, visitation and support. Before you and your spouse attempt to come to an agreement on the issue of child support, however, you need to know that the amount of that support is not up to you. Read on to learn more about how child support amounts are determined and what you can expect.
The federal government, in an effort to standardize the rules about child support amounts, have handed down guidelines that use income as the main determining factor when ordering child support amounts. Since the standards are based on each state's median income, every state's support amounts will be slightly different.
Specific online calculators can help give a general idea, based on your particular state, of what you can expect to pay for child support. Be aware that the amounts shown are only rough estimates, and there are quite a few off-setting factors that need to be considered before coming to a more accurate amount. One main factor is the percentage of custody awarded (for example, 50/50 between the two parents or full custody going to one parent). Some more of these factors include:
Income: Some states look at your net income, others look at your gross. There are usually special provisions for those who do seasonal work or are self-employed. As you might expect, the higher earner of the two parents is likely to pay a higher percentage of the support payment.
Standing Orders: If a parent already has a previous child support order in place (from another relationship), that support amount may be used to reduce the reported income when calculating the payment. It's worth mentioning that to use this provision the support must be court ordered and up to date.
Childcare Expenses: Babysitting and childcare expenses can be deducted from the income of the parent responsible for paying the expense.
Healthcare Premiums: The issue of insurance premiums has its own separate entry in the divorce agreement, and the parent who agrees to provide that benefit to the child may also deduct that amount from their income for the calculation.
Miscellaneous Circumstances: It should be noted that every family has different needs, and special circumstances like having a special needs child and the related expenses should be a part of the child support calculation as well.
Discuss the issue of child support with a professional from a company like the Law Offices of Lynda Latta, LLC for more information and to learn more specific facts about how child support will be calculated in your unique circumstances.