Once custodial parents learn their child support rights, they typically wonder how much support to expect. Determination of child support payments by noncustodial parents is made at a state level. Though there are no standard calculations throughout the U.S., several general guidelines tend to be applied nationwide. A child support attorney can provide additional details to help custodial parents understand their entitlements.
Child Support and Custody Arrangements
Custody arrangements impact child support obligations in most states. If one parent is granted sole custody, the other parent is typically required to pay child support. When parents are awarded joint custody, child support calculations are based on the earnings of each parent and how much time the child spends with each one. In both cases, it may become necessary to raise or lower child support at particular times based on changing circumstances.
States consider the standard of living and financial needs of the child when determining child support. The income of the payer and the income and needs of the payee are also considered. Some states follow a strict percentage of net income requirement, while other states consider the totality of the circumstances as they surround the financial needs of the children. Parents are typically required to provide details regarding income, expenses, and other aspects of their financial situations. In some states, the judge will consider what a parent can earn versus what this individual currently earns. This prevents parents from taking a lower-paying job to avoid supporting a child.
The court typically makes mandatory deductions for income taxes and Social Security, arriving at the net income figure. Clothing, shelter, food, and existing child support obligations are often considered mandatory deductions. However, loan payments are usually not considered as important as supporting a child financially.
While parents may initially be satisfied with a child support order, one or both of them may wish to change it in the future. A judge must approve all modifications that lower or raise child support. If both parents do not agree on the adjustment, a court hearing may be requested. However, courts usually do not modify child support agreements unless a parent can prove a change in circumstances such as additional income, cost of living increase, or increased needs of the child.
Temporary adjustments to child support may be awarded in certain circumstances. These include a medical emergency of the child, temporary hardship of the parent receiving child support, and illness or job loss that renders the paying parent temporarily unable to make payments. A cost of living adjustment clause may be included in a child support order to automatically increase support payments according to a specified economic indicator. Child support lawyers help people that need to either collect child support or need help in fighting an unfair amount they may be paying.