If you're going through a divorce and have children, one of your biggest concerns may be about how the judge will determine child support. While the rest of a divorce may be stressful and emotionally-charged, the child support determination is actually pretty straightforward. Here's how it works and how it doesn't.
What Child Support is Not
To put your mind at ease, first consider what child support is not. It is not to punish one of the spouses for alleged wrongdoing, and it is not to say that one spouse is a better parent than the other.
Child support is simply designed to care for a child's needs. Arguments about anything else can and should be ignored because the family law judge will do just that when they are considering the child support judgement.
How Child Support is Calculated
While the calculations vary from state to state, child support generally follows a very simple formulate. It takes into account the income of the parents, the number of children they have, and how much time each parent spends with the child.
For example, take two parents where one earns $60,000 per year and one earns $40,000 per year for a total of $100,000 per year. They have two children, and their state says that with two children, 10 percent of their total income should be used for childcare.
The $10,000 is divided proportionally according to their income. The parent who makes $60,000 is responsible for $6,000, and the parent who makes $40,000 is responsible for $4,000.
If the parent who makes $40,000 has primary custody, the parent who makes more would be ordered to pay them $6,000 per year in child support. If they split custody 50/50, the parent who makes more would be responsible for $2,000 per year in child support payments.
Adjustments for Special Cases
The formula approach is used in the vast majority of child support decisions. It's important to understand that by law, child support cannot be waived or lowered except in rare circumstances of economic hardship.
It can, however, be raised in certain circumstances. Often, this is when a child has increased medical or other care requirements due to a disability or illness. If the parents agree to cover the cost of private schooling, the child support amount may also be raised.
To learn more about the child support laws in your area, talk to a local family law practice, such as LeCroy Law Firm, PLLC, for more information.
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