How is child support calculated?

Child support is calculated based on the figure the court determines is the non-residential parent’s “net income.”  Net income includes income from all sources, minus the following deductions:

  1. federal income taxes;
  2. state income taxes;
  3. social security payments (FICA);
  4. mandatory retirement contributions required by law or as a condition of employment;
  5. union dues;
  6. dependent and individual health/hospitalization insurance premiums;
  7. dependent and individual life insurance premiums ordered by the court to reasonably secure payment of child support;
  8. prior obligations of support or maintenance actually paid pursuant to court order; and
  9. expenditures for repayment of debts that represent reasonable and necessary expenses for the production of income, medical expenses to preserve life or health, reasonable expenditures for the benefit of the child and the other parent, exclusive of gifts.

 

Once the court determines the net income of the non-residential parent, it applies the following statutory guidelines as child support to that figure:

1 child 20%

2 children 28%

3 children 32%

4 children 40%

5 children 45%

6+ children 50%

 

The court can also, in its discretion, require the non-residential parent to contribute to the reasonable expenses of the following:

  1. health needs not covered by insurance;
  2. child care;
  3. education; and
  4. extra-curricular activities.

 

 

A residential parent can get non-guideline support (support either in excess or below the guideline percentages) when the court finds that deviation from the guidelines is appropriate, after considering the best interest of the child(ren).  Factors the court will consider include, but are not limited to:

  1. the financial resources and needs of the child(ren);
  2. the financial resources and needs of the custodial parent;
  3. the standard of living the child(ren) would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;
  4. the physical, mental and emotional needs of the child(ren)
  5. the educational needs of the child(ren);
  6. the financial resources and needs of the non-residental parent.

 

In cases where a deviation from the statutory guidelines is ordered, it is usually when a non-residential parent’s income is either very high or very low.  When a non-residential parent obtains a downward deviation from the guidelines, he or she almost always is unemployed.   It is very difficult to obtain a downward deviation when the non-residential parent is employed.  A residential parent may receive a deviation when he or she has an extraordinarily high income (the deviation would be downward from the percentage guideline) or when the non-residential parent has an extraordinarily high income (the deviation would be upward from the percentage guideline).