What Determines Child Support Payments

Law Blog

If you are going through a divorce with children involved, one of the things you will be concerned about are the future child support payments. It does not matter if you are giving or receiving child support, you'll want to know if those payments are determined in a realistic and fair way. Ultimately, the final payment amount is decided by a judge, and they will use the following factors to decide on a child support payment amount.

The Custody Arrangement 

One of the biggest factors in child support payments is custody. As you can imagine, if one parent has full custody of a child, the non-custodial parent will have a greater financial responsibility in the form of a larger child support payment.

However, splitting custody does not always means that there will not be any required child support payments. A judge will still look at each parent's income and living situations, and determine if one parent needs to provide support to the other parent so that the child's living situation is equal. This can happen if one parent does not make as much money as the other parent, or if a parent is responsible for paying for the child's health insurance and needs financial support to cover the costs.

The Standard of Living

A judge will want to make sure that the living arrangement for a child after a divorce is comparable to what it was before the divorce. This is often a reason why one parent will owe child support, so that the child's standard of living does not change much. It is why divorced parents of rich families often pay much more than a middle class family, even though a lower child support payment will be sufficient.

The Cost of Living

It is common for a judge to adjust child support payments over time to reflect the increased cost of living. This can be done by upping the child support payments each year by a percentage that matches inflation, or by a parent requesting more child support to reflect a higher cost of living that has changed over time.

The Child's Special Needs

If the child needs special care, either educational or medical, those additional costs can be factored into child support payments. The burden to pay these costs will not be put all on the custodial parent if they are unable to pay for them.

For help requesting the right amount of child support for your child, work with a divorce lawyer.


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