Child Support

CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES

Every parent is legally obligated to  contribute to the support of their children.  When parents separate and divorce, the amount of support that each parent must contribute is determined pursuant to the child support guidelines.  The guideline is mandatory if the parents’ combined income is $15,000 a month or less.  If their income is greater than $15,000 a month, then the amount of support is subject to the discretion of the court.

You can access a free child support calculator on line here.

WHAT IS “INCOME” FOR PURPOSES OF CALCULATING THE CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION

Income includes all W-2 wages.  If a person is self-employed income is calculated by subtracting any necessary and ordinary expenses from their gross income.  Income includes overtime, bonuses, and commissions.  Further, the court may consider severance pay, capital gains, gifts, prizes, and the like.  Expense reimbursements or in-kind payments may also be considered by the court.

If a parent receives Social Security Disability benefits for a child, the benefit may be considered and their child support obligation may be offset by the amount of the benefit.

ALLOWED EXPENSES

In addition to the basic child support obligation derived from the guideline, there are expenses that will be shared by the parties in proportion to the income earned by each.  The expenses include extraordinary medical expenses, health insurance, and daycare.  In certain circumstances private school tuition may included as a child support obligation.

DOES SHARED PHYSICAL CUSTODY EFFECT THE CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION?

In instances where a child lives with a parent more than 65% of the time, that parent is considered to have sole physical custody for purposes of calculating child support.  If the child lives with either parent less than 65% of the time, then the parties are considered to have shared physical custody, and the child support obligation is adjusted to the guideline.

HOW LONG IS A PARENT OBLIGATED TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT

The child support obligation terminates either:

  • When the child reaches 18 AFTER graduating or withdrawing from high school OR;
  • When the child reaches 19 years of age while still enrolled in high school.

Changing a child support order

Child support can be modified if there has been a substantial change in income, a child emancipates, or a change in the approved child support expenses, like daycare.  Typically, the parent seeking the modification of child support files a Motion for Modification with the court or with the Office of Child Support Enforcement.  If the moving party is able to demonstrate a substantial change, the child support obligation will be modified.

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