One potential tricky aspect of a divorcing couple with minor children involves the perfect storm of both emotions and finances. The parent who is not appointed to be the physical custodian of the child will inevitably be ordered to pay child support for that child. The rules for who pays what and how much is owed are set out in specific laws and rules, so read on to learn more.
Who makes the rules: Child support is actually a federal issue since it involves the most innocent of victims in a divorce situation. Keeping the best interest of the child in mind, these laws allow family court judges some guidance when it comes to handing down orders. The actual amounts, however, are based on each individual state, since the cost of living varies so greatly across the country.
Who makes the payments: In general, the noncustodial parent is the one charged with this obligation. The income of both parents is taken into consideration. In some cases, the custodial parent's income does exceed the noncustodial parent's. While it's uncommon, some parents are not ordered to pay child support.
Planning ahead: You can access some helpful online calculators designed to give you an idea of what you might expect to pay (or receive on behalf of your child). There are many factors to be taken into consideration, however, so only use the calculator to get a general idea.
Know about other factors: Be aware of the following circumstances that could influence the amount paid.
- Some states look at net income, some look instead at gross income.
- Child support obligations from a previous relationship could be used as a deduction on income for calculation purposes. It should be noted that these child support payments should be up-to-date and only the ordered amount can be used (voluntary payments cannot be used).
- The parent who is responsible for paying childcare and babysitting expenses can deduct that amount from their income.
- A child with special needs could cause related expenses to their care to be deducted from the income of the parent paying those expenses.
- A note about health insurance: In most states, the parent responsible for paying health care premiums and expenses can also deduct that from the income calculation. Additionally, the final divorce decree will contain a provision dealing with the health care issue.
Speak with your attorney to learn more about how child support is calculated in your location. To learn more, contact a law firm like Kleveland Law.