One of the most difficult aspects of a divorce can be when children are involved. Parents have to decide who will get custody of the children, what visitation will be like for the non-custodian parent, and the amount of child support that will be paid. There are guidelines that determine child support payments, and if you are going through a divorce with kids, it is important to understand the basics of it.
Federal Government Guidelines
In an effort to make child support payments predictable and consistent, the government has created a way to calculate how much child support should be paid to the custodial parent. Child support payments will be based on how much money the paying parent makes, and rules change depending on what state you live in since it is based on the median income of the state.
Using a calculator will only give you an estimate on child support payments because there are additional factors that can offset how much is owed. This includes what percentage of the time the child is living with the custodial parent, and any unique circumstances relevant to your situation.
Child Support Payment Factors
The biggest factor is the income of the parents. Be aware that some states will use gross income to calculate child support, while others use net income. Those that make more money will typically pay a bigger percentage of their income in child support.
Courts also factor in any other child support owed for other kids. Some states have a limit on what percentage of a person's income can be put towards child support, so there may be a limit due to existing child support payments. If the parent paying child support currently pays for preschool, babysitting, or daycare, those expenses could lower their income level that child support payments will be based on.
When a child is currently on the health care plan of the paying parent, those premiums are considered as well. Co-pays and deductibles are not factored, though, and should be included in a divorce settlement agreement. Special needs children will have additional considerations, including paying child support to cover travel expenses and special care needs relating to the child.
With there being so many factors at play, it is hard to determine what your child support payments will be. It is best to work with a lawyer like those at Kleveland Law that can help navigate your state's requirements to ensure that child support payments are fair.