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How is Child Support Calculated?

Going through a divorce is a rough and trying time. There are a lot of questions that need answering. If you have children, it just makes things all the more complicated.

One of those questions might be, “how is child support calculated?” Well, thankfully, we can help with that one! The average amount of child support is $5,774 per year, but yours could differ by a large amount depending on your specific circumstances. 

That’s why we put this guide together, to help you understand just want goes into child support calculation. Read on to learn how they do it!

How is Child Support Calculated?

The court calculates your child support payments using a number of factors. The goal of this formula is to make your calculated payments specific to your situation and fair, rather than some arbitrary number assigned by the court. We will look at each of the elements used in the formula through this article.

1. Income

The first element that the court will consider when deciding your child support payment amount is your income. They will need you to submit documentation that proves what your current income is. You will need to submit the following:

  • a recent w-2
  • paystubs
  • other documentation for rental income, bonuses, IRA income, or any other forms of income you might have

If you are self-employed, the court will take an in-depth look at your tax returns to determine your income.

In some cases, one parent may argue that the other is purposely underemployed or unemployed. If the court determines this to be the case, they may exclude income from the equation and instead calculate child support based on what that parent should be earning.

2. Dependents

The court will also consider any dependents you have when they make their calculations. If you have other children you need to support, the court will take this into account when determining what you owe for child support.

3. Overnight Visits

Depending on the custody agreement, the child may spend more time with one parent or the other. This will place a large portion of the day-to-day expenses on that parent. This is taken into account when the court calculates child support.

They will look into what percentage of the time the child spends with each parent for full days including staying overnight. If one parent has sole custody and the other only sees the child once a week for a non-overnight visit, the visiting parent may owe more in child support since the financial burden of the child’s daily expenses will weigh less heavily on the other.

4. Healthcare Costs

Whichever parent is paying for the child’s healthcare costs will likely receive a credit towards child support when it’s calculated. They will need to provide evidence of insurance coverage and how much they pay for it each month.

5. Childcare Expenses

Childcare is a huge expense, and often in divorce, it is unavoidable since the child is only with one parent at a time and both parents will likely need to be working. If one parent pays for the majority of child care expenses, that will be credited to them during the calculation of child support.

Get an Estimate

It is possible to use tools online to get an estimate of what your child support payments might be so you can know what to expect. Follow this link to use the handy child support calculator!

Plan Ahead for Payments

Well, hopefully, that answers the “how is child support calculated” question. Now that you know what factors go into the decision, you can start taking a look at the budget and making plans. We wish you the best of luck!

We hope you found this article helpful! We’ve got many more helpful articles, legal topics and otherwise, so stick around and check them out!

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