Divorce Child Support Guidelines

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Child custody and child support are the two important aspects of a divorce case involving children. When parents separate, one of them has to the take the custody of the child, and the other parent has to fulfill the child support obligation. Thus divorce child support guidelines are developed so that the both the parents can share the expenses required in upbringing the child. Depending on the nature of the divorce case, some family features, and the income of the both parents, these guidelines may encompass the expenses of food, clothes, health insurance, education, etc., required for the basic child support.

In the United States, court awarded child support were prevalent till the early phase of 1970's. It was found that a major amount of the support payment was not paid and the number of children living with the custodial parent increased throughout the 1970's. The frequency of these issues led to the abolition of the court awarded child maintenance during the late 1970's, and the first half of the 1980's. The child maintenance guidelines came as a replacement of the earlier system that was awarded by the court. The Federal government made these guidelines mandatory in 1988, although it took some more years for all of the states to develop their own rules. At present, every state in the USA has developed its own formulas to calculate child subsidy payments.

Child Support can be defined as a payment ordered by the court. The non-custodial parent has to forward this payment to the custodial parent. The underlying rule is that both parents (whether they are divorced or married) have the responsibility to fulfill the necessities of their children. Although every state in the United Nations has different laws for this issue, some of the common features and highlights of these laws are mentioned here.

Highlights of Divorce Child Support Guidelines:

  • The guidelines of each state are updated intermittently. The state law committee handles such updating. While updating, the following two points are considered:
    • Whether any new laws regarding child support were introduced
    • Whether there has been any increment in the costs of living
  • As the custody arrangement changes, so does the guidelines. For example, if there is sole or shared custody, then the calculation of the support amount is different than a split custody.
  • The intention of forming these rules is that the court and the parents should have a standard approach to calculate an adequate monthly support amount. The objective is to provide such a standard of living for the child that is as far as possible similar to the one the child experienced before the divorce.
  • The court is authorized to deviate from the specific worksheet in the following circumstances:
    • If the parent who is supposed to pay is slacking and not earning money proportional to their potential
    • The child has some special considerations
    • The non-custodial parent cannot pay the calculated amount
    • The amount derived from the worksheet is more than what is essential
    • It is possible for the non-custodial parent to pay more

Pertinent points about Divorce Child Support Guidelines

  • The Courts follow one of the following models while calculating child support:
    • Percentage of Income model: The support amount is expressed as a percentage of the income of the parent who has been ordered to disburse support.
    • Income Shares model: The support amount is estimated by finding out the share of income that the children would get if the family continued to be intact.
  • Some of the factors that are considered as per the guidelines are as follows:
    • Union dues and amount
    • Day care and related expenses
    • The parent who is paying health insurance and of what amount?
    • The ages of the children
  • The guidelines also state that the points mentioned below must be considered:
    • Whether either parent is a recipient of or an obligor of child support or spousal support that is related to any previous marriages.
    • After the most recent divorce, whether any parent is living with a new spouse or partner, and whether this new spouse or partner is making any contribution to the household costs.

There may be certain cases where both parents agree to a certain amount of support that is not same as the amount described as per the laws. If the court finds your decision to be correct, the agreement will surely be accepted. Thus you are free to take your decisions only if these are logical and serve the interests of the child. In many cases, one spouse may not agree to pay the amount as specified in the worksheet. In such cases the spouse has to convince the judge about the reason, and also that the children will be adequately taken care of even without the amount specified by the laws.

It is not easy to understand all the aspects of divorce child support guidelines. The fundamental principle is that child support should not be regarded as a payment or gift for the benefit of visitation. As a matter of fact, support is an obligation. If a parent fails to disburse this amount, it can be regarded as contempt of court. So you should be aware of the state-specific rules and regulations and bear the expenses honestly. Remember, a slight negligence on your part can ruin the present and future of your children to a great extent.

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