At Fahnert LLC we routinely deal with child-support cases. Calculating the correct amount child-support is often one of the most important issues in a divorce or parentage case because it affects the standard of living of both the child and the parents. On the one hand, if too little child-support is paid the child is going to miss out on the standard of living that he would have enjoyed had his parent’s marriage stayed intact. On the other hand, too much child support may not really benefit the child but instead create a financial windfall for the payee parent at the payor expense.
Usually, child-support is awarded to the parent who spends the most time with the child. However, in unusual circumstances (such as one parent being very financially well off and the other one being very poor) a court may deviate from the statutory guidelines and order the parent who spends the most time with the child to pay support to the parent who spends the least time with the child.
Child support guidelines change depending on how many children were born or adopted by the couple:
- If you have 1 child, you pay 20% of your net income,
- If you have 2 children, you pay 28% of your net income,
- If you have 3 children, you pay 32% of your net income,
- If you have 4 children, you pay 40% of your net income,
- If you have 5 children, you pay 45% of your net income,
- If you have 6 or more children, you pay 50% of your net income.
If a court wishes to deviate from the statutory guidelines it must state it’s reason for doing so.
In addition to child-support, the court may order one or both parents to contribute toward additional child-related expenses such as:
- health needs not covered by insurance;
- child care;
- extracurricular activities.
One of the most difficult aspects determining the right amount of child-support is determining a parent’s net income.Net income is defined as “income from all sources” minus:
- Federal and State income tax,
- Social Security payments,
- Mandatory retirement contributions,
- Union dues;
- Health insurance premiums,
- Life insurance premiums ordered to cover child-support to secure payment of ordered child support,
- Prior obligations of support or maintenance (from a different case),
- Obligation of maintenance in this case,
- Expenditures for repayment of debts that represent reasonable and necessary expenses for the production of income such as student loans, medical expenditures necessary to preserve life or health, and
- Foster care payments paid by the Department of Children and Family Service for providing foster care.