How Is Child Support Calculated?

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Learn how child support is calculated!

As a custodial or non-custodial parent, you may be asking yourself, "How is child support calculated?"

Understanding How Is Child Support Calculated

There is no straightforward answer to the question, "How is child support calculated?" Each state has its own laws and guidelines enforced by the judges who determine the amount of child support the non-custodial must pay. This state-governed practice was a result of the federal Child Support Enforcement Act.

Influences on Child Support Amount

Parental misconduct or division of assets are not considered when determining the amount of child support. Instead, the following childcare necessities help a judge conclude how much child support the non-custodial parent will receive.

  • Needs of child

Necessary costs of the child such as medical insurance, private school, transportation, and childcare will factor into the formula for child support.

  • Income of parents

Some states factor in the income of only the non-custodial (paying) parent but other states will also factor in the custodial parent's income.

  • Standard of living for child

The judge may figure out how well the child would have lived if his/her parents did not divorce. This assumption of the child's standard of living can also affect the amount the non-custodial parent may have to pay to keep that stable comfortable status.

  • Additional children

Some states will consider the non-custodial parent's other children who he/she may or may not be caring for to ensure that those children also do not go without funding to live well.

  • Alimony payments

How much alimony is paid or collected can be included in a state's child support formula.

Using Child Support Calculators

One of the best ways to get an estimate of how much child support will be is to use an online child support calculator. Here are some things to keep in mind when you use an online child support calculator:

  • Each online calculator uses different formulas for each state, so it's important that you choose the state where your court hearing will be held.
  • These calculators are only for a guideline and in no way represent the actual amount you will have to pay or what you will receive.
  • When filling out the information, use estimation if you don't know an exact amount.

What Happens When Parents Live in Different States

If you have moved to a different state, your child support amount will need to be determined where the divorce took place. You won't need to return to the state to attend court proceedings but you may be required to participate in a telephone conference. If you need additional assistance working between states, you can look into The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.

Additional Guidance

If you are still pondering, "How is child support calculated?" you may want to contact a lawyer in the state that the court hearing will take place. A lawyer will better explain the laws and guidelines for your state and give you an estimation of how much you will have to pay or how much you will receive.

How Is Child Support Calculated?