16 Jul 16

How is child support determined?

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How child support payments are determined can differ between states. Many states use something called the income share model. Other states use the percentage of income model. There are also states that use a combination of the two models. Some states use something called the Melson formula for child support calculations.

Income Share Model
In these states, child support is based on the income of both parents and the total number of children involved. Once the total amount of income for both parents is determined, an economic table is used to figure out the costs associated with raising children in that particular state.

Percentage Of Income Model
In these states, a court will base the amount of child support on a certain percentage of the non-custodial parent’s gross income. The number of children being supported is also taken into consideration. The percentages will vary between states that use this model. In some states, it’s a flat percentage of income. This percentage does not change even if there is a change in the non-custodial parent’s income. With states that have a varying percentage, the amount of child support will change as the non-custodial parent’s income changes.

Melson Formula
States that use the Melson formula have the amount of child support payments based on a set of varying factors. This could include such things as a child’s needs based on age as well as standard of living adjustments and more. It is able to provide more money for child support if a parent experiences an increase in income. Calculating an amount for child support in a state that uses the Melson formula is often considered very complicated.

Court Determination
In all states, the court has the authority and power to deviate from the state’s child support model. They are able to base child support payments on a number of other factors. This could include such things as any specific financial needs of the child or children as well as the standard of living they experienced prior to the divorce. The non-custodial parent’s financial ability to pay. The expenses of the custodial parent as well as the amount of time the child spends with the non-custodial parent. All of this and more will influence the amount of child support a person is required to pay. In some situations, a judge has to also take into consideration a parent who is paying other child support orders. Should a child have an inheritance or trust, a judge can take that into consideration. The terms of the divorce or separation agreements could influence the amount of child support.

Evaluating Income
Most states permit a judge to take into consideration how much the parent paying child support earns as well as what they actually earn. This is an issue if the parent paying child support intentionally takes a lower paying position. The needs of the child are always put first. In some situations, a parent paying child support could intentionally earn less because they are going to school. In this case, a judge may let the original support order remain in place.

Child Support Modifications
There are many things that can impact a person’s income. It is possible to change a child support order. This could involve an increase in ability to pay as well as an increase in the need for support. The easiest way is for a modification to occur is when both spouses agree to the modification and submit a change request for approval by a judge. When spouses don’t agree, they can ask to hold a hearing with the court. At this hearing, each spouse will be able to present their justification for altering a current order of child support. Most courts discourage this and will only agree to modify a support order if the spouse paying child support can show proof their financial circumstance have changed.

If you have questions, please speak to our divorce lawyers in NY. Our attorneys are available 24/7, to help you.

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