How is Child Support Calculated?

Calculating the Financial Responsibility of Child Support

Divorce is often an emotional and arduous process, especially when children are involved, making child support one of the biggest “battles”.  While many assets are settled upon the during the finalization of the divorce, child support may be an ongoing issue until the child is grown or no longer claimed as a dependent.  Divorce proceedings and the calculation of child support differs from state to state and may be dependent on the specific case.  Generally speaking, when determining child support, there are a number of factors that are taken into consideration, including but are not limited to:

• Your child’s needs

• Whether or not the parent that loses custody is able to support him/herself

• The child’s standard of living before the divorce

• Whether or not the non-custodial parent has any other children and what the provisions for those children may be

Calculations Based on Income

In some states, child support is based on the income of the parent who loses custody while other states take both of the parents’ finances into consideration.  For example, a divorcing couple in Indiana may have the income of both of the child’s parents taken into consideration and weighed against the expenses that the child will incur. However, in Massachusetts only the income of the parent who loses custody is considered. Guidelines for extra expenses such as daycare, extracurricular activities and even college tuition also vary from state to state.

Refusing to Pay Child Support

If the non-custodial parent is employed, he/she does not have the right to refuse to pay child support.  Wage garnishment is in effect in every state for child support.  If the non-custodial parent is not working or otherwise refuses to pay the support owed, then that parent may be arrested for contempt of court. If you are a custodial parent and are in need of assistance to collect delinquent child support, there are both state and private agencies that can assist you.  Additionally, you can receive assistance from the government during your quest to collect delinquent payments.  If the non-custodial parent refuses to pay he/she may face:

• Suspension of a driver’s license

• Professional licenses for law or medicine can be revoked

• Any income tax refunds will be seized for non-payment of child support

Child Support Modifications

If you are the non-custodial parent and your circumstances change, you can not simply refuse to pay child support.  If you are financially unable to pay child support, you have the right to petition the court to have your payments modified.  The custodial parent, however, has the equal right to petition the court to request more custody support.  There are different grounds for petitioning the court for any modification of child support and they include but are not limited to:

• Either parent having a reduction of income or lasting change of income

• Serious disability or illness of either parent

• Alteration of the circumstances of the child that can include the child receiving an inheritance or growing old enough to be considered to have reached the age of majority

If you are dissatisfied with the proceedings regarding the custody of your child, you should seek further legal advice.  Remember, however, that children have no say in divorce and what ever the court decides is deemed in the best interest of your child.  Your child deserves the best life he can possibly have, whether he lives with one parent or lives part-time with you.

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