How Does Louisiana's Child Support System Work?

By Heather Frances J.D.

When parents divorce, children may suffer financially from the decreased household income level. Child support orders are given to help ensure that both parents are supporting the children financially, even when only one parent has custody of the children. In Louisiana, as in other states, child support guidelines help determine the amount to be paid, and the state can help a custodial parent obtain payments.

Child Support Guidelines

Louisiana has established child support award guidelines based on the incomes of both parents. These guidelines are based on the estimated costs of raising a child at various income levels, taking into account the number of children in the household. The non-custodial parent is required to pay an amount based on his percentage of the combined incomes and the specific needs and expenses of the child. Child support orders can include each parent’s portion of medical insurance, medical costs not covered by insurance, private school tuition and extracurricular activities.

Deviating from Guidelines

In cases of joint custody, a Louisiana court considers the amount of time the child spends with each parent as a basis for adjustments made to the amount of child support paid. Louisiana allows the court to deviate from the guidelines if the application of the guidelines to a particular case would not be in the best interests of the child or would be inequitable to the parents.

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Modifying Louisiana Child Support Orders

If a parent can prove that a material change in his circumstances occurred after a child support order was issued, the parent can ask the court to modify the existing child support order. For example, if the noncustodial parent becomes severely disabled and cannot work, the court could modify the child support order based on his new, lower income.

Department of Children and Family Services

Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services offers child support assistance services, including collection and distribution of child support payments. When a non-custodial parent’s child support payments are withheld from his paycheck as specified in the child support order, DCFS collects those payments and sends them to the custodial parent. DCFS can help a custodial parent find the non-custodial parent and establish paternity, if necessary. DCFS also offers assistance in obtaining and enforcing a child support order.


Non-custodial parents who do not pay their required child support may face significant penalties. In Louisiana, enforcement efforts may include income assignment, seizure of federal or state tax refunds or lottery winnings, and suspension of professional licenses, hunting and fishing licenses, driver’s licenses, motor vehicle registrations and passports. A parent who is behind on child support payments can also be punished for contempt of court for not following a court order.

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How Child Support Works


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Massachusetts' Child Support Laws

As in other states, Massachusetts parents must provide financial support for their children, even if the parents are not married. When parents divorce, their divorce court sets a child support amount that the non-custodial parent must pay toward his child's care. In Massachusetts, child support amounts are set by court guidelines and are enforceable by state law.

Idaho Child Support Laws for a Non-Paying Parent

When parents separate or divorce, the custodial parent is typically entitled to child support from the parent who does not have primary custody. Idaho's child support guidelines set forth the amount the non-custodial parent must pay. The paying parent generally must make child support payments until a child turns 18. If payments are not made, Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare is authorized to enforce a court order to obtain payments.

How to Compute Child Support Payments in Michigan

Calculating child support under Michigan law can be confusing and complicated. The state uses the income shares model, meaning that child support should provide the children with the same lifestyle they had before the parents divorced. However, in Michigan, only the custodial parent receives child support. To calculate support, the state will consider the income of both parents and other factors concerning additional children, child care and medical needs. The state uses a number of formulas and calculations to take into account all the relevant factors. You may seek assistance from the state to verify your calculations.

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