How Child Support Payments Are Calculated

When a couple decides to end their marriage, they are forced to go through a custody agreement if they have a child. This isn't always a difficult process and we see many families come into our offices with a child support agreement already in place. These couples make the decision to put aside their own differences to help their children go through the divorce with the least amount of stress. It's their goal to make the child support and custody agreement process as easy as possible for all involved.

When families come in without as much respect or desire to work things out as a team, the child support process can be more challenging. However, one of our skilled divorce attorneys can help you arrive at a mutual agreement with your ex-spouse.

How is Child Support Calculated?

There is no simple answer to this question because the laws are different in every state. Each state uses their own calculation methods to determine the amount of child support that must be paid. However, the court will take each situation's particular circumstances into account before making a final decision and which will be legally binding. The following factors are taken into consideration when making that decision:

1. Melson Formula. The states that use this method of mathematical calculation want to know more about the standard of living adjustment the child will face than anything else. It's a complex issue to calculate, but it basically means the parent who pays support has to pay more as their income increases so that the child is not forced to live a different standard of living.

2. Income Shares. This is a simple law to understand. Both parents share the financial responsibility of caring for the child. Both incomes are considered. The court uses a specific chart to determine the child's cost of living in that state. That amount is split between the parents based on their total incomes. For example, if one parent has a monthly income of $5,000 and the other has a monthly income of $7,500, their total income is $12,500. The parent who earns $7,500 per month makes 60% of the total income between both. The other parent makes 40% of the income. Each parent's responsibility is reflected by their percentage of the total income.

3. Percentage of Income Model. In a state that considers this child support determination factor, only the income of the parent who doesn't have custody of the child is taken into account.

a. The typical amount of money that the non-custodial parent pays depends on the state. In some states, it's a percentage of the one parent's income.

b. In other states, it's a flat fee associated with the rules in the state. This makes it difficult to determine how much you might pay in fees if you are going to divorce and pay child support.

c. One of our attorneys can help you figure out who much you might pay or receive each month to support your child.

Contact a skilled family lawyer Peoria, Illinois relies on to discuss your case at no cost. If you need help coming to agreement with your ex-spouse on child support, we may be able to help you.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Smith & Weer, P.C. for their insight into how child support is commonly calculated.