What Determines the Amount of Child Support Paid

child support

If you are currently going through a divorce, you probably have many questions regarding child support. Whether you are the one who might be paying it or the one who might be receiving it, you probably want to make sure it’s a fair amount.

The largest factor in determining how much child support will be received is the income the parents are making. Some states consider both incomes and others only consider the income of the parent who is not receiving custody.

What Exactly Determines the Amount of Child Support Paid?

The main factor that determines how much a parent will pay for child support is their income. There are some other factors to keep in mind though. The state you live in will also determine what factors are used to decide on how much child support is owed.

You can always have a discussion with your lawyer about what factors will be used and what you might be expected to show in court as a means for evidence of child support.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Which parent is bearing the cost of daycare and how much the daycare costs
  • The ages of the children
  • Which parent pays for health insurance for the kids and the monthly payment of the insurance
  • Irregular income of the parent including incentive pay, severance pay, or regular work bonuses
  • Whether each of the parents lives with a new spouse who pays the bills and expenses
  • Deductions from income payments such as union dues
  • Whether the parent pays for children from a previous marriage
  • Whether the parent pays child support for other children from another marriage
  • The child support the parent receives from another marriage

The exact way your income is determined varies depending on which state you live in. For example, some states use gross income while others use net income. Some states also use gifts, bonuses, and how much money you might make during overtime to determine child support.

Child support is also considered more important than alimony. Child support will always be calculated first and then alimony will be settled afterward.

Investment income might also be used in some cases to determine how much child support is given to the other parent.

What Determines Whether You Will Receive More or Less Child Support?

The judge will not always reward the exact amount that might seem the most logical on paper. Sometimes the noncustodial parent will be expected to pay more or less the guideline amount. If you think some of the guidelines do not apply to you, you will need to speak with your lawyer and they can appear to the judge on your behalf.

You can always argue when you think some of the guidelines do not apply to you. For example, you might say that you should be required to pay less per month if your children are in private school and you are the one who pays the school tuition fees.

If you have a case like this, you need to be able to show the judge proof and documentation of the extras that you pay for the children. Without documentation, a judge will not be willing to change the amount they have ruled on.

Here are some other cases where a judge might decide to have the noncustodial parent pay more or less:

  • A child is disabled or has special needs. Children who have certain medical or educational needs might require a higher amount of support.
  • The paying parent is not meeting responsibilities. In some cases, the parent who has to pay will take a lower-paying job before court proceedings to show that they do not make a high income. If the parent is well educated though and has the easy ability to get a higher paying job, the judge might calculate their income on what they could be earning rather than what they are currently earning.
  • The paying parent is unable to pay. Lower support amount might be ordered if the other parent does not have a job or recently lost their job. If this is the case, there will likely be a follow-up court date where the circumstances can be reexamined.
  • The noncustodial parent can give more. If the paying parent has a large number of assets or receives certain compensations from their job like housing allowances then the judge might order that this parent pay more.
  • Guideline amount is more than what is needed. In some cases, the noncustodial parent makes a large amount of money and the guidelines might say that they need to pay a much larger amount than what is really needed to support the kids. The judge might order that they do not need to pay the full amount in this case.

Special considerations are also taken when the parent is self-employed. They might need to show business expenses and monthly expenditures that they spend on office rent or other things for their true income to be calculated.

What to Do When the Child Support Amount is Unfair

If you think you are paying too much for child support in Sacramento, California and cannot provide for yourself and pay other bills, it’s highly recommended that you speak with a lawyer. They might be able to get you another court date and speak with the judge concerning your struggles and your income.

If you are the custodial parent and the child support you are receiving is not enough to pay for your kids’ necessities, you should talk to a lawyer about getting another court date and requesting more child support.

For help with child support, contact Eric Mercer Law today. Our team of legal experts is well versed in child support cases and we are ready to represent you whether you are the noncustodial parent or the custodial parent.

We know that divorce can be hard and child support make the financial aspects of the situation much easier for you and the children.

About the author 

Eric Mercer

Eric Mercer is the owner and primary attorney at the Law Office of Eric Andrew Mercer based in Sacramento, California, but represents clients all over California. He started his legal career as a patent litigator at an intellectual property law firm in Palo Alto, California. He formed his own law firm in 2009, where his practice includes family law, consumer law, and personal injury. His family law practice focuses on parents’ custody rights and support. His consumer practice focuses on individual and class action litigation involving mortgage loan servicing, foreclosure avoidance options, mortgage origination, foreclosure rescue scams, automobile fraud, and unfair debt collection. His personal injury practice focuses on bicycle and motorcycle accidents. He is experienced in California and federal courts through all phases of litigation, trial and appeal.

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