The costs of raising a child always seem to be in flux. They grow out of every pair of pants they own over the mere span of a few months. They need fifty dollars for a field trip and another fifty for school supplies. They accidentally run over the family's cell phone data and rack up hundreds of dollars in texts.
Children are naturally expensive - it can't really be helped. "Traditional" families already have trouble keeping up with finances, but single and divorced parents face extra obstacles. Child support is a system that allows children to have the same resources they would have if their parents did not divorce. Courts have the tricky task of deciding how much financial support is necessary.
First, courts need to know what they're working with. They examine the income, including bonuses, of the custodial or non-custodial parents. The combined income of both parents and the number of children for which to provide will indicate the minimum amount of child support needed. These initial amounts are already fixed, according to the statute.
For example, if the parents earn a combined $6,000 per month and share two children, the minimum amount of standard child support is $1,737 per month. The court may split this obligation between parents.
This figure, however, is rarely the final result. The court may raise or lower this amount based on a few financial factors, such as whether:
- One parent is paying for the child's health insurance
- The child has special needs or a disability
- One parent does not receive income during part of the year
- Parents have certain debts
- Parenting time is shared equally or unequally
In addition to these common scenarios, courts will consider anything that is relevant to the costs of raising the child and the ability of the parents to meet those costs. An attorney can clarify how your particular case may affect the amount of child support.