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How is child support determined?

There are a few factors that are taken into consideration when the courts make a ruling regarding child support. As we have stressed before, the courts want to protect a child's well-being and will make decisions in the best interests of the child. If there is joint custody, the courts will look at both the amount of time the child will spend with each parent as well as the income of each parent. When there is sole custody, various other factors are also taken into consideration.

In order to minimize the impact felt by the child or children as a result of the divorce, the courts will try to make an effort to maintain the child's previous standard of living during the time of the marriage as best they can. They will also look at the custodial parent and the child's situation, considering necessary costs for the child such as day care, the child's education, insurance as well as any applicable special needs that need to be addressed. Again, they will look at the income of both the custodial parent as well as the non-custodial parent.

In addition, after looking at the non-custodial parent's income, they will look at other costs such as income taxes and Social Security that may affect a parent's net income. They will also look at existing child support payments the non-custodial parent is already paying, as well as the cost of living expenses they are already incurring.

Courts will also consider what a parent earns versus what they potentially could earn. This means that if a parent has a career change and voluntarily takes a lower paying job, the courts may not allow for an adjustment. In the viewpoint from the courts, the child's future takes preference over the career path of the paying parent.

Source: findlaw.com, "How to calculate Child Support," Accessed April 24, 2017

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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