Child SupportOnce 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.

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8 thoughts on “How Much Child Support Should I Expect?”

  1. my question is me and my fiance just separate we have a 2 month daughter she say she will put me on childsupport we talk about it the i will help with half of the daycare and halft with whatever the baby need it for what shes telling she want mento pay her $500 every 2 week when i not even make 30k a year shes a administrator and she may maybe 3 times more then me she say the if we go to court i have to pay more then 1000 dollars a month justbthe day care cost $1300 plust mild and pampers the she get help with wic and medicare im really confused people been telling me all kinda stuff but i dont know what to donor who i have to listen to it i know i have to pay no matter what but 1000 dollars a month sound and is way to much

  2. alright here is my question, my wife and I are separating and are moving forward with divorce we have pretty much have set up up a visitation schedule for our two children. In the visitation schedule depending on the length of the month and the way the schedule is set up she has both children one to two days more than I would and very rarely would it be she have them three days longer than I would. but the question I have is if she is covering the cost of all of the children’s needs and wants while they are with her and I am covering the costs of all the children’s needs and wants while with me (this is something we’ve agreed on) is child support really necessary? By no means am I trying to get out of paying I just not sure if it would entirely necessary.

    1. Family Law Advice

      Most judges will not allow you to waive child support, and in most states, trying to do so is against the law and a judge can’t do it. That being said, because you two have an almost 50/50 split on having the kids, most judges will order a very reduced child support amount. Setting at $10/month for your type of situation is a possibility if your ex agrees to do that. speak with a divorce expert and get the right divorce help and advice you need. Good luck!

  3. I have custody of my son, ex is to pay 85.00 per week. He is 4 weeks behind – he has no bills – he lives with his dad on some property – he does not work but only for cash money – so i have been paid that way for the last few years – I am tired of fighting him – what are my chances of getting him to pay and keep the same amount. I am worried if i turn it over they will reduce what he is ordered to pay since he does not work. what are my options before i waste my time and own money.


    Michelle Turner

    1. This type of working situation is always pretty difficult. It is possible for a court to “impute” a certain amount of income to an individual who is either not working much or working at all, so that they can be forced to still make a specific minimum payment each month for child support. This is difficult to do on your own. Imputing income is something that any good child support attorney can explain to you when you speak with one for a free consultation.

  4. My question is, my ex husband presently has sole custody of my two daughter’s ages 11 and 14. I am on Disability. He is awarded almost $900 per month per child, based on my earnings. The Judge (I live in Missouri) was uncertain if the Form 14 (Child Support Form) would be used to determine the amount of support I pay in Child Support, or, if I should be given credit, since I also have the girls, buy them clothes, am ordered to pay 1/2 of all their school, extra curricular activities and medical expenses and I live off of 1560 a month!!!!! IF the Form 14 had been used, he would have received approximately 795 for BOTH children. I have read many reports but there is no clear definition. If the disability is determined off of MY prior income, it states that the STATE form should be used to determine the amount, and I receive the balance, as I am still required to pay half of all of their expenses, including braces etc, which cost thousands of dollars. I would have absolutely NO problem paying half the expenses if I was given credit for the time the spend here, clothing, groceries and activities we do here as well. When he paid child support, I received 565 for both children and that was when they were still in need of child care after school. I know there has to be somewhere in the law that makes it fair for us both to receive an appropriate amount. I know that only one payee can be issued but it surely doesn’t mean the other parent cannot send the appropriate amount to provide equal costs for their expenses. IF you can lead to to any case law (I have already looked at Weaks vs Weaks) but just common sense would state you don’t give one parent over $1800 no taxed to cover the expenses of a child, while I only take home 1560 a month. I am in desperate help in this matter. Please, I beg of you to steer me in a direction that I know must be out there to provide fair and just payments. Thank you, Kimberly Boude

    1. Missouri uses the “Income Shares” model for child support. This means that the level of child support is based on the combined income of both parents. If this amount is more than half of your net income, you need to hire an attorney to file a petition for modification of child support and have the amount lowered. The longer you wait, the longer you have to continue paying this high amount or the more arrearage and back support you will rack up.

    2. Sorry, this didn’t post as a reply.

      There is one problem with this – I see that you state that this is based off of Social Security Disability? In that case, there is nothing that can be done to change the amount your ex is getting. The amount is coming from Social Security, not from you, even though it is based off of what you made before becoming disabled. Either way, it is taken into consideration when the Form 14 is calculated, and if you were ordered to pay half of the unreimbursed, then you are still considered under court order to pay for it. There is no law stating that you can get that money back or that can order the father to pay it back to you.

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