Every child is entitled to financial support from both parents. Child support is based on a state formula, accounting for child placement and parents’ incomes. If a parent has less than 25% of overnight time with a child, the parent will pay a straight percentage of gross income:
- 1 child 17%
- 2 children 25%
- 3 children 29%
- 4 children 31%
- 5 or more 34%
If each parent has more than 25% of the time, they are both considered “shared payers.” In this case, each parent’s income is considered in the formula, along with the percentage of overnight time. The above percentages are generally reduced. Further complicating matters, parents with very high or very low income use a different calculation, further reducing the standard percentages. Finally, parents with children from other relationships get a further reduction, to ensure that previous children’s child support is not reduced. Of course, the tradeoff is somewhat of a first-come, first-served basis, with subsequent children from new relationships generally receiving less support.
Sometimes one parent fails to pay support, or sometimes parents just need some help figuring out a fair amount. We also work with clients who feel that obtaining support from the other parent is not worth the effort. However, financial support is one of many roles and obligations of a parent. Each parent should live up to that obligation for the child’s sake. We work with parents to establish, review, and modify support when appropriate, to ensure that children receive the assistance they deserve.
An order awarding support is usually not final. It can often be changed if a parent/spouse experiences a substantial change in circumstances. Support modification can result in hearings and trials just the same as with original divorce or paternity cases.