How Much Child Support Should You Be Getting

How much child support is fair?
The primary goal of child support payments is to ensure the children’s quality of life does not change after the parents have divorced.

When a couple is ending their marriage and going through the divorce process, it can be a very difficult and emotional time. When children are involved and custody agreements and child support payments need to be worked out, it can only add to the pressure on both parents. For those going through this process, it is important for them to know what their child support rights are, whether they are the parent receiving support or the one paying the support.

In the eyes of the court, the children’s well-being and quality of life is the most important aspect of the case. While the parents are able to voice their wishes for custody agreements and child support payments, the judge will always rule in favor of the circumstances that will best support the children involved in the process. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the children have the same quality of life they had before the divorce and also ensure that their needs, both financially and emotionally, are met.

Why Are Child Support Payments Needed?

The definition of child support is “court-ordered payments, typically paid by the non-custodial parent, to help support the couple’s minor children.” Family court judges are responsible for setting the child support payment schedule and amount during the couple’s divorce. When a child support order is made by family court, it is meant to help the custodial parent, or the parent with primary custody of the children, maintain the children’s quality of life.

This money, usually paid by the non-custodial parent, or the parent who does not have custody, is meant to be used for items such as:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Child Care
  • Schooling
  • School Supplies
  • Medical Care
  • Additional Items Such as Activity/Class Fees

This money that the custodial parent receives is meant to help the children continue their lives as normal and ensure all their costs and needs are covered. This helps the children to make an easier transition into living in a single-parent household and continue to live a happy, healthy life.

How Much Child Support Should the Custodial Parent Receive?

While going through this process, custodial parents will often find them asking themselves, “how much child support should I be receiving?” The Federal Child Support Enforcement Act outlines different child support calculation formulas for custodial parents based on their unique situation. It is also important to keep in mind that the amount of child support ordered by one judge in State A may be different than what is ordered by another judge in State B.

In these situations, parents may find it beneficial to seek the advice of a lawyer who specializes in family law, child custody, and child support cases. This professional will be able to explain how the formulas that are part of the Federal Child Support Enforcement Act work and how they may apply to the parent’s specific child support case. Additionally, the lawyer will be able to support the parent in court and ensure they are being treated fairly and receiving the appropriate amount of child support.

How a Judge Will Determine the Amount of Child Support

When considering the amount of child support they will award the custodial parent, a family court judge will take a number of factors into consideration including:

  • Current Parental Custody Agreement
  • Ability of Non-Custodial Parent to Pay Child Support
  • Number of Children Involved in the Case

For those parents who have sole custody of the children in questions, child support will most often be paid by the non-custodial parent. For those parents with joint custody of the children, the child support agreement will be based on each parent’s financial ability to care for the children and which parent is more financially stable. Additionally, in joint custody cases, the percentage of time the children spend with each parent will play a role in the decision on child support payments.

The primary goal of child support payments is to ensure the children’s quality of life does not change after the parents have divorced. Because of this, the court will evaluate the children’s current manner of living and use that information to help determine child support payment amounts. While this is the goal, the court will recognize if maintaining this lifestyle is no longer possible and adjust accordingly. Other factors that will weigh heavily on this decision include:

  • Special Requirements for the Children
  • Dental Care
  • Vision Care
  • Medical Insurance
  • Child Care Costs

Providing Financial Information

During the child support process, both parents will need to provide a financial statement. This will detail the expenses incurred monthly as well as their monthly income. This financial information is crucial in how the court will calculate appropriate child support payments and which parent will be making and receiving these payments. The court will take the time to subtract mandatory deductions from the parents’ incomes and may account for the increase in cost of living expenses.

Disputing a Child Support Decision

If one or both of the parents do not agree on the child support agreement passed down by the court, or one or both of their financial situations change down the line, they have the option to go back to the judge and ask for the payments to be increased or lowered based on the new circumstances. Additionally, if the parent providing the child support misses payments or refuses to pay, the parent who is receiving the parents can petition the court to force the other party to make their payments.

Consequences for Not Paying Child Support

For parents who fail to pay the ordered child support to the receiving parent, there are legal consequences they will face. These penalties include:

  • An Arrest Warrant Being Issued for the Paying Parent (May be Criminal or Civil)
  • Being Found in Contempt of Court
  • Being Charged Fines
  • Having to Serve Jail Time
  • Wage Garnishment (Includes Garnishment of Unemployment Benefits and/or Worker’s Compensation)
  • Denial of Tax Refunds

Professional Legal Support

Since the child custody and child support laws can vary from one state to the next, it is important for both parents to retain the help of a legal professional who specializes in family court and child custody issues in the state in which the judgment is taking place. This will help to ensure that the receiving parent is getting the amount of child support their children deserve and need and will also help the paying parent to not be overrun with child support payments that may be unjust or unfair.

Going through a divorce is difficult on its own but when the pressures of having to deal with child custody and child support are added to the mix, the process can be draining and emotion. This is why it is so important to seek the assistance of a legal professional to help ensure you are making the best decisions for yourself as well as for the welfare of your children. A family law attorney can help the case go smoothly and ensure you are receiving the child support payment you deserve during your divorce.

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14 thoughts on “How Do I Know if My Child Support is Fair?”

  1. I receive 4,500 a month 3,000 because I am a beneficiary of a trust and 1,500 from social security disability income. I have one child that is 7 I just want to know how much child support I’m looking at?

  2. I have a hearing tomorrow, my daughter’s mom is asking for more money. I currently pay about $250 a month. may not seem like too much but she doesn’t even work and now has another child. I have lots of bills to pay and on top of that helping my single mother out. What can i do about this? I dont get to see or be with my daughter at all. She lives in Ohio and I live in Texas. Got to meet her at age of 6 years for about 2-3 months and mom decided to take her away back to Ohio without me having a say in the decision she made. What can ya’ll advice me?

  3. The mother of my daughter and i went to court. To decide how much money i was going to help her with and hours and days of visitation. A year after, we decided to get back together and got married. My question is. Now that we are married. Do i still i have to paynchild support even if i married to her now?

  4. The point is that I never went in front of a judge for child support my husband did his mind my back and got a divorce by my backpack signed any papers no favors at all but they are garnishing my check and child support for years so that’s not right

  5. I get child support like $116 every two weeks but there time I don’t get anything from the father. He says he’ll pay it whenever he can. I truly need help with this it’s been going on for years. I just don’t no what more to do..

  6. Yes I’m a father of 2, I pay 1800 a month and also pay health insurance and half dr bills! They went off my gross, I do get overtime but sometimes they cut it out. The mother, ( my ex) don’t work, at all. Not even looking for a job! Is this right? Or what can I do

  7. Lots of information about situations where children live with one parent for more time than they do with the other. If it is a 50/50 split (or fairly close to that) is child support even necessary? If one parent makes significantly more than the other is that factored in? Or would that be considered alimony if the higher-earning parent ends up buying clothes, school supplies and other items for the children?

    1. It depends on the state. Many states now follow an “income shares model” for child support calculation where total income (between both parents) determines the combined “support for the kids amount of money” and the amount of days/overnights determine the amount each parent has defines the needs to “contribute” to supporting the kids. Then, one parent may be paying the other parent support. When there are big income disparities though, it is possible for one parent to pay the other if they have slightly less (think: 45% of overnights) or even 50% of overnights.
      Most of the time, a 50/50 split of custody/parenting time results in no support being paid by either parent.
      Alimony (maintenance / spousal support) is entirely different and not related to child support.
      Also, buying clothes, etc., is NOT child support, so don’t think that because you bought clothing, food, diapers, etc., that you can subtract that from a child support amount – that will not fly in court.

    2. My fiance has been paying child support since 2009…he is on disability benefits and the payments are taken directly from his check….His child’s mother receives $430 dollars a month, every month and always on time. He owes no back payments and all payments are current… His child support case is here in Florida… However, his ex refuses to allow him to have any communication with the child and has alienated him completely… When he calls to try to talk to his daughter, he is met with complete hostility, he gets degraded, and told that his daughter hates him and is cussed out and hung up on…I know that this is really hurting him….His ex is very hateful and spiteful to him…she took the child and moved to Iowa, he has no idea where she is living because she refuses to tell him anything… Anyways, she went as far as filing for child support in Iowa…just to be vendictive…What we don’t understand is How is it possible for her to be getting child support in Iowa when she is already getting child support in Florida?? To me it seems that it was fraudulently done and should not have been allowed….Am I wrong?? Is this legal to have to different child support cases in two different states for the same child???

  8. Joshua Hernandez

    I have a hearing on next Tuesday the 16th,
    I’m requesting to modify the child support since I work on mornings now and I get less paid than night shifts like I was doing 9 months ago,also my child visitation change little bit more on my favor, My kids are 7 and 10, they come with me every 1st,3rd and 5th weekend of month from Friday 5pm to Sunday 5pm, also half of spring,summer and winter vacations (Mother didn’t agree on giving me more even when I requested it). I leave an hour and 45min from my kids..
    We had a court last month but the mom didn’t want to agree on the child support suggestions. She’s been getting $2000 monthly and she didn’t want to agree to lowered it at $1600/$1800., and judge decided to send us to LA county child support court.
    I can’t effort that money. I’m married and my wife have 2 kids 13yrs and 15yrs, it’s hard because my wife it’s not working now and I’m trying to keep up with rent, bills and the previous marriege debts ,lawyer payments, etc.
    I’m really desperate because Judge is always on the mothers side, I am a really shy person and I get anxiety when I’m on front of the Judge and I feel that my silence have made it worst. I got a lawyer but I dont feel its working and now I have that debt too.
    There’s any way I can have a consultation with you guys before my hearing? Or is it too late?

  9. Child support is not fair in any instance. It is illegal. Title IV-D was never signed into positive law. It is unconstitutional, in violation of due process, and it is immoral to take someone’s property, and it is not even ‘in the best interests of the children’. It is all about Title IV-D money and extorting money from the Federal government to support the corrupt municipal family court system and who pays? Social security to the tune of billions of dollars annually. There is no right to misappropriate funds from Social Security to fund a corrupt entity while violating someone’s civil rights. It is an abomination. I wish to raise my children without government intervention.

  10. I’ve just been from the court with my ex-husband because I filed against a modification letter to increase the child support payment that I received for my child.. But I do really I once disagreed with the amount below that I received. He was a union covered and Contsruction worker. what else do I need to bring or open up for fight to have an increase payments?

  11. My name is gregory Wagner and I recently went thru a divorce my ex wife filed it and completed it the divorce was finalized couple months ago my ex wife and I have three children. I never gave up my rights to my children and my ex wife’s mother Melanie mason custodial party ? Not sure what that means I thought she only had guardianship of my children. I’m in desperate need of guidance on this matter I’m confused because today I received in the mail a Statement from child support stating I am behind on my payments?? It says I owe $2,803.00 per month and total balance it states I owe is $34,537.61???and I’m disabled signing up for disability matter of fact and under doctors care . I have no job and no where to live at the moment I’ve been staying in a friends garage temporarily until I get on my feet I really am lost .the only income I do receive at the moment is food stamps which is $192.00 per month and medical for my disability. Absolutely no cash or checks no bank account nothing and I’m very worried about this I don’t want to lose my license or go to jail please if u can help me.

  12. So i have a hearing tommarrow because my ex wants more money because my boys dont spend the :so many overnights: wich lowers my support by 15 %. One is 18 now and support will end in June 2018. The other is 13. They live a half hour away as well. both kids have after school activities wich go till atleast 7 or 8pm. archery and werestling. the oldet also works tues,thur, and sundays.
    I am entitled to tues nights 6pm till early mrning. then every other weeekend thur to sunday. Problem is tht i work till 6pm and that is pick up time over a half hour away. I have concluded that it is pointless to get them at 7 o 8 drive back home and just go to bed. I have a dificult time getting off work to make the 6 oclock pick up time. She wants more money now. my adult son shouldnt matter. I pay the max and she has failed to be a responsible parent finacially for 10 years. Using the gov, mediacaid and whomever she can scam.
    I feel that my boys are the age where i dont want to interupt there events or time with friends by saying NO, u have to come with dad and sit at my house.
    In reality, i think the mom realizes that support for the oldest will be done in a few months and is using a child support reveiw to get more out of me wich i cannot afford.
    She also mysteriousy has a job after 8 years of not working claiming she only makes 800 a month. But with that my support only goes down 2 dollars,? wtf. any suggestions. Also i am single so do not have another income in the house to help

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