Divorce: Child Support Law

By Wayne Thomas

Both spouses are obliged to financially support their children after divorce. Courts operate on the assumption that you are directly supporting any child that is living with you. The other parent, typically referred to as the non-custodial parent, is then generally ordered to pay the custodial parent to account for the difference in parenting time. This payment is known as child support and states have different approaches to how it is calculated.

Both spouses are obliged to financially support their children after divorce. Courts operate on the assumption that you are directly supporting any child that is living with you. The other parent, typically referred to as the non-custodial parent, is then generally ordered to pay the custodial parent to account for the difference in parenting time. This payment is known as child support and states have different approaches to how it is calculated.

Income Shares

States differ on their approach to calculating support. The majority of states use what is known as the Incomes Shares Model. This model tries recreate the same proportion of financial support that occurred during marriage. So, if one parent contributed 75 percent of the total household income, he would be responsible for 75 percent of the total amount of the child's support obligation after divorce. The actual dollar amount of payment from the non-custodial parent is contained in the state's child support guidelines and is based on total household income. A few states use a variation of this formula, known as the Melson Formula, which takes additional public policy factors into account, such as a parent's financial needs.

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Percentage of Income

An alternative method, used by a smaller number of states, looks only at the non-custodial parent's income. The support obligation is then calculated based on a percentage of that parent's income. Some states use a flat percentage for all income levels while others provide that the percentage decreases as income increases.

Adjustments

After the base support amount is calculated according to a state's formula, certain adjustments are generally allowed. These adjustments include a reduction for the number of overnights the non-custodial parent has with the child and increases for extraordinary expenses, such as private schooling. Some states also allow the non-custodial parent to request a deviation if the obligation is inappropriate or unjust. Deviations are always at the court's discretion.

Modification

Once a support obligation is in place, most states allow it to be modified in the future under certain circumstances. Modification usually requires a showing that a change in circumstances has occurred from the date of the original order. Examples of a change in circumstances might include a change in the custody order or significant increase or decrease in the non-custodial parent's income.

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New Jersey Child Support Questions

References

Related articles

Questions About Child Support in South Carolina

When parents divorce, determining child support can feel like solving a math problem. South Carolina, like other states, uses a specific formula for calculating the amount that the parent with physical custody of the child, known as the custodial parent, should receive. The other parent, referred to as the non-custodial parent, may then request certain adjustments to the base figure. Further, either parent may pursue a modification of an existing order if the circumstances change after a child support order is issued.

Pennsylvania Child Support Questions

Child support laws in Pennsylvania can be confusing. Determining the amount of the obligation requires full financial disclosure by both parents, mathematical computations, and then discretionary adjustments by the court to suit the specific circumstances of your case. Knowing how payment amounts are calculated, as well as what events can result in a change or termination of the support order, will help answer some of your questions regarding child support in Pennsylvania.

Reasons to Deviate From California Guidelines for Child Support

Divorce does not relieve either parent of the obligation to financially support their children. In California, state guidelines are used to calculate a support amount according to the incomes of both parents. However, in some cases, the amount that a parent is ordered to pay is found to be inappropriately high or low. Courts have the discretion to deviate from the support formula in limited circumstances when this happens.

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