Each state has its own “formula” for calculating child support, and court judges will use this formula when determining how much child support will be paid. However, parents can still estimate fairly well what the child support amount might be even before the decision is made. Parents can have an idea by using websites that provide free calculators, however, calculations may vary from state to state. One example is alllaw(dot)com.
One component of deciding the child support amount is the income of both parents. Not all states consider both parents, as they only look at the income for the parent who was not granted custody. Also added to this equation is how much time the parents spend with the child, or children, as it is indicative of the type of relationship they have.
In general, these are the common factors most states will consider:
- If either parent was in a previous marriage, how much child support/alimony are they already receiving?
- Is either parent currently paying child support or alimony from a previous marriage?
- Does either parent have primary custody of a child from a previous marriage?
- Does either parent primarily pay for things like day care or the children’s health insurance? How much are they paying?
- How old is the child, or children, involved?
- Does either spouse now reside with a new partner with whom they share the living expenses?
During the process of divorce, most courts believe that figuring out the child support payments are more important than the alimony payments, and will usually decide on child support before moving on to spousal support.
Once again, a huge deciding factor will be income, and not all states consider income the same way. For instance, not all states consider bonuses and overtime as part of income, while others most certainly do. Ask your child attorney about how your state defines income.