Calculating Child Support – the Basics (with 2015 Child Support Chart)

When a parent is given primary conservatorship of a child in a family lawsuit, meaning they will have the right to designate where the child resides, the other parent is typically ordered to pay support for the child in the form of child support.  The court and the attorneys for the parents will employ a variety of methods for coming to an appropriate amount of support for the non-custodial parent.

Child support is traditionally based on a parent’s monthly net resources that they earn from either employment or self-employment.  In addition, the court can take into consideration income derived from retirements, such as a pension, or social security benefits a parent receives.  The net resources means the gross amount of income a parent receives each month reduced by federal and state taxes, social security taxes, union dues, and expenses for health insurance for the child or children.

Once a court arrives at an amount of monthly net resources for a parent, they will apply a percentage to the amount to obtain an amount of child support that will be payable by the parent.  The percentage is based on the number of children before the court in the pending lawsuit, such that one child will be 20% of the net resources, 2 will be 25%, 3 will be 30%, 4 will be 35%, 5 will be 40%, and 6 or more will be at least 40%.  If there are children that a paying parent has who are not before the court but that the paying parent has an obligation of support, that will generally reduce the percentage owed for child support by 2.5% for the first child, 1.5% for the second child, and 1.25% for the third child.

A high income earning parent will want to consider that the court will typically only use the first $8,550.00 of monthly net resources that a parent may have, such that a parent having more than this amount in net resources will only have his or her first $8,550.00 of net income considered for child support.  This means that for one child, the usual maximum for child support is going to be $1,710.00, while the maximum for two children will be $2,137.50.

The court can deviate from these guidelines with sufficient proof from either party of extraordinary circumstances concerning things such as educational or medical expenses, possession and access, travel costs for exercising possession, and underemployment or unemployment.  Also, if a child is receiving social security or disability benefits as a result of a paying party’s old age or disability, these can act to reduce the amount of child payable to the custodial parent.

If you face the possibility of being subject to a child support order of the court, you will need to consult with an attorney to help make a proper determination of the child support that you may owe under a family law order.  An attorney can help you find the proper calculation of net resources as well as find any credits or deductions from net resources that will hopefully result in a manageable amount of money being paid by you for child support.

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