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How is the Amount of Child Support Payments Determined?

According to the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, the amount of child support paid is based on guidelines issued by each state. In general, the guidelines use a formula that takes into consideration the amount the non-custodial parent makes and the amount required to care for the children.

Determination of Child Support

The amount of child support paid is usually based on the incomes of both parents and how much time the children spend with each parent. For instance, if the mother earns less money than the father and the children spend more time with her, the father will generally pay more child support. However, it is important to remember that this will not always be the case, and that the courts determine the amount of child support awarded on a case-by-case basis (within certain child support guidelines). There are several factors the court takes into consideration when determining child support.

Custody arrangements may affect how child support is determined. When sole physical custody is awarded to one parent, the other typically must pay child support according to the state guidelines. Having joint legal custody does not necessarily reduce the amount the parent without physical custody pays, because the parent with physical custody will still absorb most of the day-to-day costs of raising the child. Joint physical custody may, however, have an effect on child support payments. If the parents have relatively equal incomes and the children split their time evenly between the households, neither party may end up having to pay child support. If one parent makes considerably more than the other, that parent may still have to pay child support, but the amount will be reduced based on the time the child spends with him or her.

While each state has it own specific child custody and child support laws, you can obtain a child support calculator that should give you a rough approximation of expected payments. If you need legal advice on child support issues like paternity, enforcement, and recovery, please contact an experienced family lawyer today.


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