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What Are Child Support Guidelines & Where Can I Find Them For My State?

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The Child Support Guidelines refer to the guiding principles developed to help attorneys and parents in the establishment and modification of a child support order.

The enactment of these guidelines is informed by the following key principles, to arrive at an appropriate child support obligation:

  • Both parents have a responsibility to support the child financially, whether they are married or unmarried.
  • No child ought to be an economic victim of separation, divorce, or any other marital affair.
  • Parents need to maintain a basic income for survival.
  • Negative changes should not occur to the child’s living standards following parents’ separation.
  • Both parents make significant non-monetary contributions to the children’s lives.
  • The parents are likely to incur extra costs as a result of maintaining two separate households.

Due to the priority of children’s interests, basic child custody support apply to all contested and uncontested cases in which a child support guideline calculation needs to be determined. The calculation of the child support award is done with respect to several aspects and will typically differ from one set of minor children to another.

The gross revenue, and tax returns, of the custodial parent, as well as non-custodial parents’ household finances, is the first factor to consider.

Spousal payments one makes to support your former partner who earns a lower or no income otherwise, referred to as alimony, is also considered in the support determination for your kids.

child support guidelines

Other items factored in the establishment or modification of the children support award include:

  • the amount each parent spends on health insurance premiums for the children;
  • government benefits the children enjoy such as social security;
  • work-related childcare costs and overnights the non-custodial parent spend with the child monthly, creating a “split custody child support” arrangement.

Many states will consider the monthly child overnights in each household as a primary factor in child support guideline calculations.

Noteworthy, many other issues not mentioned above are considered before making temporary or permanent decisions concerning your minor children’s financial care.

With such information on the parents’ income and ability to pay, the court or the attorney can easily calculate the amount a party is obligated to give towards the support of the actual child.

Traditionally, the child support guidelines serve as a rebuttable presumption to the trial court in the approval of a child support agreement for your current child. Therefore, the amount determined as child support with the help of these guidelines is deemed correct unless either the noncustodial parent or the custodial parent of the kids proves otherwise.

When is a Child Support Order Inappropriate?

The child support order awarded may deviate from the Child Support Guidelines when:

  • The custodial arrangement is exactly 50/50 with monthly child overnights between households,
  • Extremes in the parents’ incomes. For instance, the income of the party ordered to pay the child support obligation is below the U.S Poverty Guidelines,
  •  The child is above 18 years and does not live with the parent, and normally has graduated high school.

Notably, this is not an exhaustive list of circumstances in which the financial assistance for child calculations may be considered inappropriate. Your attorney will help you in identifying other factors that may cause a deviation in the support awarded based on the child support guidelines.

Must I Involve the Court in Settling Child Support Issues?

child support guidelines

Child support only becomes a concern for the court when living together as a family becomes implausible for the parents. The court will therefore decide on the amount the non-custodial parent must pay for the child’s upkeep. The child resides primarily with the custodial parent while the non-custodial parent is entitled to liberal visitations. The decision for custody is reached by an agreement between the two parents but it can be battled in a court too.

The court will use the state’s child support guidelines in determining the case. However, you can avoid the legal expenses of litigation by signing an agreement with your partner on the appropriate amount to pay towards supporting your kids. Incorporating this in the divorce agreement is the best way of avoiding further attorney fees while offering the appropriate support to your family.

Will the Child Support Obligation Cover All the Kids Expenses?

When the court grants a child support order, one parent is often required to make direct financial payments to the other parent, or more accurately through a state enforcement agency. While some parents may view this as a form of alimony as the payment is not made directly to the kids.

The money is meant to cater for most of the expenses, which include clothing, rent, child care, and food. Transportation for the kids, which entails owning or leasing a car, the cost of fuel, and other maintenance requirements should also be included in the support order. Health care expenses, as well as entertainment costs, always form part of the overall expenses to raise a child.

Where Can I Find the Child Support Guidelines for My State?

Every state describes the Child Support Guidelines in-depth, either in its Court Rules or any other literature. However, the guidelines may vary from one state to another depending on the expenses that ought to be covered by the child support. It is therefore imperative to check the regulations that apply to your state, which you can find here.

Seeking a Child Support Modification Through the Probate and Family Court System?

child support guidelines

A court order of support is weighted similar to any other decree. Therefore, the custodial parent can use every legal tool to enforce the order if the other parent does not pay. Wage assignments, seizure of the payer’s property, or contempt of court order are some of the tools the custodial parent can explore to ensure they are paid the entire child support obligation.

Nonetheless, the court retains the jurisdiction to effect any child support modification. Either the custodial or the non-custodial parent may request for increasing or lowering the support amount following significant changes after the initial order.

For a court to order a parent to pay child support, it must have personal jurisdiction over the parent. For instance, the individual must have a relationship with the State of New York for the New York court to issue an order for child support. 

Bottom Line for a Determination of Child Support

Dealing with divorce can be a tall order with several court hearings. Finding an experienced family law attorney, who can offer appropriate advice on these issues and any other hurdles of dissolving a marriage can help make the process less strenuous and draining. The court system can be scary when you navigate it alone.

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