Child support is calculated by applying a dual income approach formula determined by the legislatures.
Establishing an Order for Child Support
The main factors that are input into the formula are the gross income of the parents, the number of children to be supported, child support payments made in support of other children not of this case, maintenance that is paid or received, the number of overnights that each parent has custody of the child, who provides the health insurance for the children and the cost to provide the insurance.
The child support calculation is presumed just and appropriate. However, experienced family law attorneys are aware of arguments that can be made to deviate from the formula. Some of the factors considered include:
- The financial means of the parents
- The financial needs of the child
- The child’s standard of living prior to the separation
- The mental and physical needs of the child, including any special needs that might require additional expenditures
- Childcare expenses
- Other considerations, such as additional financial resources of either parent
Modification of Child Support Orders
A child support order may be modified if there is a substantial and continuing change in circumstances. A substantial and continuing change in circumstances may include the following:
- A termination of employment or reduction of income through no fault of the obligor
- Inability or reduction in work due to major health issues of the obligor
- An increase in income of either parent
- A change in the expenses of the children
- A change in the physical custody schedule
The modification may be appropriate if the child support previously awarded is unreasonable in light of the new circumstances. It is important for a parent who has experienced a change in circumstances to petition the court for a modification rather than simply cease making payments. Child support can only be modified with a new order.
Enforcement of Support Orders
When a parent is ordered to pay child support and fails to comply with that child support order, there are remedies available to the person who is entitled to receive support. Some examples of remedies include the filing of a wage withholding, garnishments or filing of a motion for contempt.