May 3, 2022
Divorce is an emotionally difficult and personally taxing process. This is true even in the most amicable separations.
The process of divorce can be even more difficult when children are involved. If you are going through a breakup or divorce, you may have considered financial child support.
Because one parent makes child support payments to the other, many people believe this is a parental right. That is a misconception. Actually, support payments are the child’s right.
Most states in the country require child support to continue until the child in question is 18 years old. A few states allow payments to end when the child has graduated high school or college.
If you wonder how much child support you can receive after a separation, speak with a divorce lawyer. A seasoned divorce attorney will determine how much child support you can expect.
Child Support Calculation Formula
The U.S. Court system uses a specific formula to calculate the appropriate amount of child support in specific cases. This helps to keep the process standardized and fair. If you have questions about how this formula applies in your situation, speak with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer.
The child support payment formula takes the following factors into account:
This factor is usually of primary importance in child support cases. The court will consider each parent’s income.
To display their financial situation, each parent must provide at the beginning of a child support case:
- A current W-2 or other tax documents
- Paychecks or pay stubs to show their average income
- Documentation of tax exemptions
- Records of supplemental income, including investments or real estate
When one parent is self-employed, the judge will assess their financial situation by examining their tax returns.
Child support cases often become contentious when one parent accuses the other of remaining intentionally unemployed or underemployed. Sometimes, a parent will purposefully earn less to increase the child support they will receive.
Fortunately, family court judges understand the typical factors in these cases. The court will determine whether both parents are working to their fullest abilities.
Judges can decide what to do if they find that one parent is earning less on purpose. If the court thinks a parent is voluntarily underemployed, they can use their ideal wages in the equation.
In other words, the judge can determine what that parent should be earning, given their occupational experience and level of education. This is known as “imputation.” Imputation can help to protect against abuses of the child support payment formula.
If you believe that the court wrongfully calculated your income, speak with a child support modification attorney. A skilled divorce attorney will represent your best interests to the court and help you receive appropriate child support.
In a child support case, the judge will require each parent to submit dependency information. When one or both parents are legally obligated to support or raise other children, the courts will consider this.
Having a legal obligation to care for other children could result in the paying parent owing less money. Alternatively, it could result in the receiving parent getting more.
In most states, the child support calculation formula accounts for the number of overnight visits a child has with each parent per week. Parents are assumed to have financial responsibility for the child when the child stays overnight.
For instance, suppose that one parent has sole physical custody. If the child only sees their other parent biweekly for a non-overnight visit, the court will consider this lack of financial obligation.
Some people mistakenly believe that parents who share legal and physical custody cannot receive child support payments. This is a misconception.
Overnight visitation is only one element in determining appropriate child support payments between parents.
The judge in these cases will also consider:
- Each parent’s financial status
- Relevant deductions
- Childcare costs
- Healthcare expenses
- And more
If you hope to have the court reconsider your support payments, speak with a child support modification lawyer.
Health Care Expenses
In most cases, the parent responsible for the child’s health care costs will receive additional credit when calculating support payments. The supporting parent must provide documentation to prove that they are paying for the child’s medical care.
In the U.S., childcare is often prohibitively expensive. Paying for this important service can cost between $10,000 to $50,000 annually.
The price of childcare varies by geographic location. But regardless of where you live, childcare is very costly.
When one parent is responsible for childcare expenses, the court will account for that fact. This can affect the child support that the parent deserves.
Seeking Child Support Modification
After a child support order is in effect, many people believe it is unchangeable. However, parents can seek an adjustment to the arrangement if their circumstances change.
The parent seeking the change will need to request a modification through the court that dictated the initial payment order. If both parents agree to the change, an order may be easy to secure.
But if the parents disagree, the court may schedule a hearing. Have a skilled divorce lawyer represent you at a child support modification hearing.
Permanent adjustments to a support order are usually the result of significant life changes for the parents or child.
These may include:
- A parent changes jobs
- A parent loses employment
- A parent remarries or is cohabitating
- Changes in state family law
- A parent has become disabled
- The needs of the child have changed
- And more
Speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney if you believe you deserve more child support than you receive. While divorces involving children can require making complicated decisions, having trustworthy legal representation will give you the best chance of securing a positive outcome for you and your family.
If you have questions regarding the legalities of child support orders, call a lawyer today.