How is the Amount of Child Support Calculated?

N. Madison
N. Madison

Child support calculation procedures vary, depending on the particular jurisdiction in which a person pays or receives it. In some jurisdictions, the law considers the income of both the custodial and non-custodial parent in making a decision. Sometimes each parent is obligated to pay a percentage of the total amount needed to support the child. In some cases, however, only the non-custodial parent's income is considered when calculating the amount of child support. Other factors, such as the number of children involved, the children’s previous standard of living, taxes, child care costs, medical expenses, and children from another relationship, may play a role in child support calculations as well.

Mediation may help divorcing partners come to an agreement about child custody arrangements, which affect child support.
Mediation may help divorcing partners come to an agreement about child custody arrangements, which affect child support.

The income of the parents involved in a child support case is typically important in figuring the amount of child support that is due. Often, jurisdictions combine the incomes of both parents and then require each parent to contribute a percentage of their income to their children’s support. In other cases, however, a non-custodial parent may be ordered to pay an amount that considers only his income rather than the custodial parent’s income as well. The way income is considered and the amounts required vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

The number of children that a person has is typically considered in determining the amount of child support.
The number of children that a person has is typically considered in determining the amount of child support.

The number of children and ordered parenting time are typically considered in determining the amount of child support as well. For example, a person who has three children may be ordered to pay more child support than a person with the same income who has one or even two children. Likewise, the amount of time the children spend with each parent may influence child support calculations as well. The amount of time each parent spends caring for the child may influence who is considered the custodial parent, and in some places, the amount each parent is required to contribute the child’s support.

Paying child support should not be viewed as a substitute for spending quality time with a child.
Paying child support should not be viewed as a substitute for spending quality time with a child.

In many cases, other considerations play a role in determining the amount of child support that is due. For example, obligations such as child support to other children, income taxes, and medical expenses may be considered. Judges may also consider payments children receive because of a parent’s disability or retirement. The amount of any spousal support payments that are ordered for either parent and any child care expenses may also figure into calculating the amount of child support payments.

The parent responsible for caring for the child the majority of the time is typically entitled to receive child support from the other parent.
The parent responsible for caring for the child the majority of the time is typically entitled to receive child support from the other parent.

Since there are often many factors involved in figuring child support and laws vary so much, an individual may need to seek a lawyer’s assistance with figuring out child support. In many cases, however, an individual may use a child support calculator that is specific to his jurisdiction on the Internet. While these calculators may not provide the exact amount a person will pay or receive for child support, they can be helpful for estimating support amounts.

Child support must be enough to the medical care costs.
Child support must be enough to the medical care costs.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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