Divorce is a major change, and it will affect not only your living arrangements but your budget as well. You will find that two can live cheaper than one, and if you have a minor child, you may also find yourself adding a new item to your budget: child support. Read on to learn a bit more about how child support is decided and how much is owed.
Who will pay child support?
This determination is usually based on income, with the higher income parent being ordered to pay the obligation. It may help to consider that it is the incomes of both parents together that is considered, and the parent who has primary physical custody of the child contributes financially without an official order. There are rare cases where both parents are ordered to pay child support, but that is only if a third party has been awarded custody of the child. Several factors go into the determination, such as the number of children in the family and the needs of the child.
How much should be paid?
This determination is more complex since it depends on several factors. Here's a list of some of those factors:
1. The income of both parents
2. The needs of the child (such as a special needs child that requires more expensive care).
3. The state median income levels
4. Federal law
It should be noted that family court judges have wide discretion when it comes to matters pertaining to child support; both in who pays it and how much they end up paying. Each family situation is different, and the child support determination and order will reflect that. Additionally, no matter involving a minor child is ever considered closed. Child support is one issue that can be revisited and adjusted as living circumstances change.
Predicting child support amounts
Handy online calculators can help give divorcing parents a ballpark figure, but you must realize that the final outcome is based on many factors and will be up to the judge. Your divorce attorney will be able to give you a much better idea of what to expect when the time comes.
Other issues that affect child support
If you are already paying child support to a minor child from another relationship, this may impact the amount you owe for the current situation. It must be mentioned that only the ordered amount can be used to reduce the amount you owe. If you are exceeding the ordered amount, you are to be commended, but that amount is not taken into consideration.
Healthcare costs are a big expense, and often divorce decrees have a separate section that addresses which parent is responsible for paying what. For example, if you are paying for your child's health insurance through your work plan, the amount of that premium along with co-pays and other medical expenses is taken into consideration when determining child support amounts.
Speak to a divorce law office like Kelm & Reuter, P.A. to learn more.