Three Things You Should Know About The Calculation Of Child Support


The calculation of child support is always a mystery to many people. If you are going through a divorce, it's good to have a basic understanding of the process to prepare you for the payments. Here are three things you should know about how courts calculate child support:

Income Includes Nonmonetary Receipts

Your total income is one of the factors that determine how much child support you receive. What you may not know is that it isn't just monetary income that matters. Depending on your state, the computation may include non-monetary sources of income too.

Here are four examples of non-money incomes that may be used in calculating child support:

  • Employment perks, such as free housing and provision of a company car.
  • Education grants, such as subsidies.
  • Gifts and prizes.

The main consideration is whether the non-money incomes reduce your personal living expenses. If they do, then they are factored into the calculation of child support.

States Treat Unrealized Income Differently

Courts consider all kinds of income when calculating child support. As you may expect, some of these may only exist on paper. Income that exists on paper, but not received, is known as unrealized income. States have different ways of treating unrealized income, so check your state's laws or consult a lawyer on how your jurisdiction deals with it.

Consider the example of interest from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) reinvested back into the IRA. If you live in Ohio, then this unrealized income is used to calculate child support while Tennessee is an example of a state that doesn't treat it as income for calculating child support.

The Actual Amount of Child Support Depends On Different Models

Once the total calculation of the income is determined, the exact amount you pay depends on the model/formula adopted by your jurisdiction. Here are three examples of the most common models for calculating child support:

  • Percentage of Income – Using this formula, the amount of child support is a percentage of the noncustodial parent's income; the specific percentage is enshrined in state laws.
  • Income Shares – In this case, the amount child support is based on both parent's income. The parent with the higher income is required to pay more for the child's upkeep.
  • Melson – This is a variation of the Income Shares model. It factors in the self-support needs of both parents, so the child support payments do not infringe on their basic needs.

Child support calculations are complex. In some cases, the court may even use its discretion to come up with a formula it thinks best fits the situation at hand. Therefore, work closely with your lawyer, one like Robert L. Flanagan, to help you understand the process and protect your rights.


17 November 2015

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