When it comes to determining a child support obligation in a divorce or paternity case, a court takes into consideration a variety of factors. These factors have an impact on the standardized child support calculator utilized to ascertain a parent’s financial obligation. In the case of a divorce, both spouses are required to disclose financial information, data which is then utilized for a number of reasons during the marriage dissolution proceedings.
This includes calculating child support. Despite the utilization of child support guidelines, and an associated calculator, to ascertain the financial obligation of the noncustodial parent, there is not a “one-size-fits-all” scheme associated with determining this type of monetary support. Rather, a court considers and analyzes the unique facts and circumstances of an individual case in reaching a determination regarding child support. As a general rule, a child support order cannot deviate significantly from what the guidelines set forth as an obligation amount, once all primary factors are taken into account. If these is a more significant deviation from the amount of support indicated in the guidelines, a substantial rationale must be presented to the court in order to support the variance.
Parents in divorce proceedings are encouraged to reach agreement between themselves when it comes to issues pertaining to their children. This includes child support. If the parents reach an agreement regarding support, that amount must be in general compliance with the guidelines. An agreement between the parents regarding an issue like child support is submitted to the court for the judge’s review and approval.
Here Are Factors That Play Into Child Support:
1. Annual Income of Both Parents
The most important factor that comes into play when determining child support is the annual income of both parents. State law establishes a formula that is utilized to determine the base financial obligation of the noncustodial parent. Understanding the a child support obligation primarily is income driven, understanding what constitutes income for the purposes of the support calculation is crucial.
In calculating support for children in a divorce of paternity case, gross income is what is at play. This represents the income earned by the parents before a calculation of taxes and other deductions.
The support guidelines tend to take an expansive view as to what constitutes income for the support obligation calculation. Naturally, income includes the wages or salary earned by each parent. Income can also include pension income, trust or estate income, annuity proceeds, and Social Security payments. If you need legal assistance you can also find legal aid here and you can search for a lawyer here.
2. Yearly Expenses for Each Parent
When it comes to the information utilized to calculate a child support obligation, yearly expenses for each parent can play a role. However, yearly expenses are no a dominate consideration as is income. Parents are entitled to reasonable expenses. Expenditures can come into play in a addressing financial support for children if one or another of the parents has particularly extravagant spending practices. Another scenario might be if a parent was spending money with the unstated intent of attempting to minimize a support obligation. Expenses of a parent that directly benefit a child can be a consideration when it comes to child support. If a parent does incur unique expenses for a child, that can impact the final support obligation. It could lower the obligation for the noncustodial parent if he or she is making these expenditures. Conversely, it could increase the obligation to the custodial parent if he or she incurs these expenses.
3. Needs of the Child Children
Another primary factor considered when calculating support are the particular needs of a child or children. There is a myriad of different types of needs associated with a child that can impact child. In many instances, there are unusual health-related issues that can directly impact the child support calculation in a particular case. Other examples of special needs associated with a child that can impact child support can include educational issues. The objective in adjusting child support when there are unique needs is to ensure that the wise interests of the child are protected even in a situation in which parents are not together.
4. Ages of the Children
The ages of the children can be a factor when utilizing the support calculator. The reality is that the costs associated with children tend to increase as they grow older. For example, as children age they tend to become involved in a variety of different types of activities that require the expenditure of money. For example, participating in sports and athletics can require investing in equipment and other items.
Although incomes still plays the primary role in calculating support, some consideration is paid to these expenses. In the grand scheme of things, these types of expenditures that might increase support obligation cannot be unreasonable. This is something a court will consider when contemplating altering child support based on age-related expenditures associated with the children.
5. Education & Special Interests
There are instances in which a child may have educational opportunities or special interests that require the expenditure of money. Depending on what these educational opportunities or special interests involve, an adjustment to child support may be warranted.
These types of issues sometimes lead to agreement between the parents regarding the manner in which support is calculated. If not, information on these educational opportunities and special interests can be brought to the judge for consideration when it comes to determining support.
6. Health Insurance
Health insurance is a significant factor that is taken into account in many child support cases. The reality is that one parent may be position to provide health insurance for a child, perhaps through a plan provided by his or her employer. Despite being an insurance plan provided through work, a parent may nonetheless have to part of the premium cost. This disbursement might be taken into account by the court when it comes to setting the support obligation.
7. Income of a New Spouse
A recurring misconception when it comes to child support issues is that the income of a new spouse, income of a stepparent, plays a role in determining the financial obligation of the noncustodial parent. The laws pertaining to the financial support of child do not oblige a step parent to contribute to the support of a child. Even if a child might benefit indirectly from the income of a stepparent, that does not in and of itself trigger an adjustment in the general at in which support is calculated.[/nextpage]