Child Support Guidelines

If you are going through a divorce or separation you must know the child support guidelines for your state.

It doesn't matter whether you are the custodial parent who will be collecting child support. Or if you are the non-custodial parent who has the obligation to pay the support on a weekly or monthly basis. Both parents need to understand the child support laws they will be governed by to ensure they hold up their end of the deal.

Child support laws are established by each individual state, so there are no nationwide child support guidelines to consider.

Following are some basic child support facts that will give you a general idea of what you are getting into and what you may expect to come in the future.

Who Pays Child Support?

In cases where one parent has established full custody of the children, the non-custodial parent will usually be ordered to pay child support. This is because the custodial parent will have the children the majority of the time and will have the right to help with the expenses of raising the children.

In cases where custody is being split, one parent may be required to pay child support or the court may determine that each parent should pay expenses while the child is with them. In many cases, this comes down to an issue of income for each parent.

How is Child Support Calculated?

The child support guidelines differ between states, but general factors used to establish the amount to be paid may include:

  1. Number of children

  2. Income of each parent

  3. Child support received by custodial parent from parents of other children

  4. Out-of-home child care expenses

  5. Health insurance expenses

Many states will look at the tax filings for the current or previous year to determine real earnings for each parent, though changes in those earnings can be proven and taken into consideration. Not all of these factors will be used by all states. Some states only look at income while others pull in a wide variety of factors.

There may also be some special circumstances that come into play, such as when both parents are still living together.

Child Support Enforcement

This also varies from one state to another. But most states do have a way for a custodial parent to appeal to the courts if the non-custodial parent is not paying. Payments are made through a governed agency so each payment is noted and there is no dispute on what has been paid and what is outstanding.

Some states can order the payments to be withdrawn from the paying parent's paychecks and sent automatically to the custodial parent, while other states may revoke the driver's license of a non-paying parent. Other states may not interfere as much.

If you are currently dealing with an ex who is not paying their child support as ordered, you need to determine the child support facts for your state to determine what you can do to get your payments.

If you are the parent paying child support, follow your states child support guidelines and only make payments through the governing agent. If you make them directly to the other parent, you will have trouble proving it was paid if the case goes to court.

To determine the exact factors used to determine child support in your state, there are many websites offering child support calculators free of charge.

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