How Base Child Support is Calculated
How Child Support Is Calculated
Child support is the most litigious aspect of a divorce case. Most issues that come up during the divorce process are resolved once and for all by the but child support and issues surrounding it may go on for years after the divorce is final or, minor children age out of the family court system.
Issues that make child support so litigious include when a parent stops paying child support or when a parent has either an increase or decrease in income and needs a modification of the child support order.
Formula for Calculating Child Support
All states have a formula established or court rules that determine the amount of child support to be paid. Other issues such as misconduct by the parent or how marital assets are split do not affect the amount paid. State child support guidelines take into consideration the following things:
- The needs of the child
- The ability of the non–custodial parent to support him/herself and the children
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents not divorced
- Provisions for any additional children the non–custodial parent may have
- Any healthcare needs of the children
- The income of the non-custodial parent
- In income-based calculations, the income of both parents
In some states, child support calculation is based only on the income of the non–custodial parent. In other states both parent’s income is taken into consideration.
In Indiana, child support guidelines factor in the income of both parents and assign each a share of the child’s living expenses as set forth by the guidelines.
However, Massachusetts’s child support guidelines consider only the income of the non–custodial parent. Guidelines for addressing extraordinary living expenses such as college tuition, daycare and extracurricular activities differ by state.
Refusal to Pay Child Support
As long as a non–custodial parent remains in the same job non-payment of child support is not an issue because their wages can be garnished. However, if this is not the case and the non–custodial parent refuses to pay child support he/she can be sentenced to jail for contempt of court.
There are private and stage agencies set up to help a custodial parent pursue a delinquent non–custodial parent. Government agencies have a variety of enforcement tools as their disposal, including:
- The suspension of the non-paying parent's driver's license
- The revocation of any professional licenses the non-paying parent may hold, such as a medical license or license to practice law
- Seizure of income tax refunds
Modification of Child Support Orders
You should never simply refuse to pay child support. If there are legitimate reasons you are unable to pay, you should petition the court for a modification of your child support obligation. As well, a custodial parent can petition the court to modify child support if the they feel they deserve an increase.
Video: Child Support In California
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