Do Child Support Guidelines Change With High Net Worth Divorces?

In a high net worth divorce, there are typically more assets involved, and nearly all financial related issues inflate due to the monetary circumstances of each spouse. Alimony awards are often much greater in high net worth divorces than the usual, and the same can go for child support. The Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 requires that every state must develop its own system of calculating the monetary awards of child support. Usually, state child support guidelines are based on the parents’ incomes and expenses, and it is for this reason that we see child support payment amounts being much greater in high net worth divorces than the usual. Another consideration is what impact could a potential inheritance of money or other assets have on the amount awarded in child support.

Child support is intended to provide for the financial needs of any children involved in the divorce, which include, but are not limited to:

  • The needs of the child (medical, educational, daily care and special needs),
  • The income and needs of the custodial parent,
  • The support payers income, as well as their ability to pay, and
  • The child’s standard of living prior to the divorce,

It’s important to note that while courts often consider the standard of living of the family prior to the divorce, it is also unreasonable to expect that the paying parent is expected to maintain two households on the same income that used to support only one household. In order to determine the paying ability of the parent, both are required to submit a statement of net worth, which will subsequently be much greater in a high-net-worth divorce. This is especially true because it is not only the income that is taken into account but also the ability to earn money. For instance, some paying spouses could turn down promotions and/or new opportunities for financial gain, just so they will not have to pay more in child support, and some instances where they are making money from a source that is not their main form of income. 

There can also be a modification to the child support decree if either parent, custodial or noncustodial, has a substantial boost in their financial situation. For instance, an increase in one parent’s income is significant enough to constitute a material change to support a modification to either increase or decrease the payment amounts, depending on who’s situation improved. 

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