How Courts Determine Child Support Payments

colorful child support letters over dollar bills and a gavelWhen parents separate or divorce, the non-custodial parent will have to make child custody payments. When neither of the parents has custody, however, both of them may need to pay child support to the one caring for the child. Courts follow child support guidelines with an aim to treat each party fairly.

Calculation of Child Support

Each state has specific guidelines and criteria in calculating the child support, like the income and expenses of both parents. This is why it is common for most courts to require each party to submit a financial statement before making a decision on the amount. Other factors considered are the needs of the children, the paying ability of the parent, and the child’s way of living before the divorce.

Child support attorneys in Kent note that when setting child support payments, the court considers the previous standard living of the family and tries to maintain it for the child if possible. It's important to keep in mind that this is more of an objective than an assurance. This is because in many cases, it can be hard to keep two households on a salary that originally supported a single home.

Modifying Existing Order

If there is already an existing child support and you wish to change it, you and your ex-partner may need to agree on a term. Even both of you agree to modify it, a judge will still need to approve. If you and your ex-spouse, however, cannot come up with an agreement, you can bring the case to a court to discuss the modification. 

In most cases, the court will only modify child support payment if you can show a significant change of circumstances. These may include:

  • A child’s medical expenses or changes in their needs
  • Your temporary inability to pay because job loss, illness, disability
  • Economic hardship of the receiving parent
  • Job/salary change (in either one parent)

If you’re dealing with child support issues, it is best to consult a family or a child support attorney. The right legal representation can evaluate the facts of your case and help you attain the best possible results.