If you are getting divorced and have a child, the Court will find that each parent owes a duty of support for the child, and you may be the party who is asked to pay support. Determining who pays support comes down to a number of factors, some of which include which parent earns more money and which will take care of the child more often.
If you and your spouse can work out a support amount that you think is fair, this may be acceptable if it’s reasonable based on the state guidelines. The Court will review the statutory calculation of child support and Order that amount. If parents agreed to an amount that you both feel is fair and provides of your child’s financial needs and does not deprive your child of support, the Court may deviate from the statutory guidelines. Courts may deviate when there are other financial considerations that effect support, like extraordinary daycare expenses, parenting time travel expenses, division of the dependency tax credit, division/payment of private school, assistance from family, income from sources other than employment, or payment of certain child expenses, just to name a few.
What are the common factors considered in a child support case?
There are many factors that may be reviewed when determining how much child support a parent will pay. These include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Any other child support orders or alimony payments
- Both parents’ gross incomes before taxes
- The number of children you have
- Expenses such as daycare and health insurance
- Recurring child expenses (medical, prescriptions, tuition, therapy, activities, cell phone plans, automobile expenses, etc.)
- The child’s income, if they are working or have another source of income
- How many nights the child spends with each parent
These factors are all important to consider, as they may influence how much each parent is supporting a child and the additional support that may be needed.
What can you do if you think the support payment is too high?
Depending on how often you have your child in your home and your current income, it may be that you are ordered to pay a significant portion of your support monthly. It’s important to note that you do have a right to seek a modification of this support payment if you cannot afford it.
For example, if incomes have changed, child expenses change, overnights change, a child emancipates, you have additional children, or other factors result in paying such a high amount would make it so you couldn’t handle other necessary financial responsibilities, the court may be willing to adjust what you pay accordingly. All modifications must result in at least a 10% change in the support calculation for a modification to occur. And all modifications occur prospectively in nature; you must file a Motion to modify as support is not retroactive. The only time Courts can retroactively modify support is upon a mutually agreed upon change in physical care of the children, and even then, you should file a Motion to Modify. In some cases, your ex-spouse may also agree to alter your support arrangements, so you can have a more financially stable home when your child comes to stay with you.
If child support could be an issue, learn more about your legal options. There are different support plans that may work for your situation.