Child Custody and Support

Setting Guidelines for Child Support

How are child support guidelines set?

The starting point for determining child support usually is the state’s guideline or a formula that considers the income of the parents, the number of children, and perhaps some other factors. The formulas are based on studies of how much families ordinarily spend for raising children. Courts plug numbers into the formula and come up with an amount of support that should be paid for the child or children. The guideline applies equally to children born to married parents and to children born out of wedlock.

The amount of money a parent will have to pay in child support varies from state to state because each state has its own guidelines and judges may differ in their willingness to depart from guidelines.

Generally, there are two types of child support guidelines. One type is based on the income of the person who is supposed to pay child support and the number of children. The other type of guideline is based on the income of both parents and number of children. This second type of guideline often is referred to as the income shares model.

Parents can argue that because of special circumstances, a court should order more or less support than the guideline amount. In some states, support orders are automatically reviewed every few years to make sure payments are consistent with current income and the support guidelines.

>>How are child support guidelines set?
>>What is considered income?
>>Can a parent be forced to pay child support?
>>What happens when the parents share custody?
>>Must the noncustodial parent pay support if the child is with him or her for summer vacation?
>>Who pays for college expenses?


Practical Law Home | Child Custody & Support Home | Deciding Factors in Awarding Child Custody
Issues Surrounding Visitation | *Setting Guidelines for Child Support*
Adjusting Child Custody Arrangements or the Amount of Child Support

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