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Questions on Child Support Guidelines

The law views child support as the right of the child and not that of the parents. The parents are by law obligated to contribute to their children’s care and maintenance. If the parents live in different residences, an obligation to pay child support automatically arises, regardless of whether there is an agreement or court order to pay child support. The child support amount may be agreed upon mutually, through a third party, or through the court. Get more information on federal child support guidelines from Family Lawyers on JustAnswer. Here are some of the top questions answered by them.

What are the child support guidelines in the case of split custody where the children are separated between the US and another country?

Each state has different child support guidelines. You may obtain these guidelines from the clerk at the court in your county. Child support is determined by the state which issued the original order as long as one parent still resides in that state. Any modification sought by the parent will be determined by the court based on his/her financial declarations. The judge may order a variance based on any issue presented by either party. One of those could be a difference in the cost of living.

How is the cost of child support calculated?

Both parents have the same duty to pay child support irrespective of sex. In the case of joint custody, the parent with a higher income (obligor) may be required to pay the other parent (obligee).

The non-custodial parent (the parent that does not have the majority of the time with the child) would normally pay a percentage of the predetermined amount. The guidelines are determined on the basis of the total family income and then a percentage is assigned to each parent. Let's say the custodial parent earns $60,000 per year and the non custodial parent $40,000. The custodial parent would normally be responsible for 60% and the non-custodial parent 40%, which the latter will have to pay as the child is not living with him/her.

Each parent is responsible for his or her own babysitting expenses while the child is in their care unless otherwise specified by the child support order. However, day care calculations may be considered as additional expense.

Also, sometimes "credit" is given based on the number of nights the child stays with each parent. Typically, the parents may not agree on a child support amount that differs from the guidelines. Child support is considered a right of the child that can't be bargained away by the parents.

Can a spouse stop child support if he/she starts paying for the child’s college education?

Laws vary in each state, with a few states like New Jersey having some of the strictest laws for support through the college years. The court may require a spouse to pay for college as well as child support. Child support payments may not be stopped without the consent of the court. Paying for college does not substitute for making the payments on child support and the aggrieved party may file for contempt for the arrearages due. The only case in which the court may reduce payments is if the obligee starts working and the earnings are offset by reducing child support.

Do the new guidelines reduce child support if the noncustodial parent has over 20% overnight visits?

The new child support guidelines give what we formerly called the "non-custodial" parent a substantial reduction in the amount of child support they are required to pay. Before the change in the law, you were required to have at least 40% of the overnights to qualify for the reduction based on what we call the "gross-up" method. This was changed by the legislature effective January 1, 2011 and the new law only requires that you have 20% of the overnights, which is very close to what parents with guidelines "visitation" usually have. Family Lawyers on JustAnswer can give you further insight in the matter.

The children are in my custody 95% of the time though court papers say 70%. Can I seek modification in child support even though I remarried?

The guidelines set by the court to calculate support may be modified periodically for various reasons including accounting for inflation. However, the right to seek modification has been limited to those situations where there has been a substantial change in the financial circumstances of either parent, or the child. This means that you may not seek modification based only upon the change in the guidelines or merely because of a new law.

The new law provides a schedule of base child support amount according to the total income of both parents. This amount is then allocated to each parent by virtue of that parent's share of the total income, and adjusted for other expenses.

You will usually not be penalized for remarriage, which means that your new spouse’s income is irrelevant and will not be included. The spouse acting as the obligor has the duty to pay. If children are spending less time with the obligor, he/she may be obliged to increase the child support payments.

Do I have to pay child support if I am a step-parent or a guardian?

You would typically not be required to pay child support for your stepchild. The biological parent is responsible to support his/her child. For the same reason, the guardian will normally not be required to pay child support.

The right to child support and the responsibilities of parents to provide such support are internationally recognized. Child support may often be arranged as part of a divorce, legal separation, marriage annulment or dissolution, determination of parentage, or dissolution of a civil union, and may supplement alimony (spousal support) arrangements. Family Lawyers on JustAnswer can answer any questions you have about child support laws and child support guidelines.

Ask a Family Lawyer

Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 9387
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
7286322
Type Your Family Law Question Here...
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Family Lawyers are Online Now

How JustAnswer Works:

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    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
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Family Lawyers are online & ready to help you now

Ely
Counselor at Law
Satisfied Customers: 8085
Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
LawTalk
Attorney and Counselor at Law
Satisfied Customers: 6424
27+ years legal experience. I remain current in Family Law through regular continuing education.
FiveStarLaw
Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 6336
25 years of experience helping people like you.

Recent Child Support Guidelines Questions

  • I am married with two children, 8 and 14. I have a construction

    I am married with two children, 8 and 14. I have a construction business but with bad economy have had low income for the past 6 years. My wife makes $325K per year with stable job and career. We have been married 22 years. I have handled most of the child responsibilities, camps, school, etc.
    What are my rights and protections, specifically financially (alimony), if she chooses divorce for irreconcilable differences.
    We live in MD
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    Child Support order that was calculated incorrectly/unfairly by the judge. Child lives in a different state. I have been married for 9.5 yrs & we have 2 kids (9, 7). We had issues 2 years ago & lived separate for 3 months. I made a bad choice & met up
    with an old friend/woman from School. The day I told her I could not see/talk to her anymore, I was working things out with my wife, OW said "I think I'm pregnant". 3 hours later, OW provided me with an ultrasound & blood test. OW (other woman) lives 500 mi
    away. OW was on birth control, I used protection & I have fertility issues which was discovered when trying to start a family with my wife. OW would not consider any alternatives & said "I might not be the father”. I was absent at birth. OW tells me I had
    to be the father b/c the estimated conception date. OW threatened my career with the Military. I did the right thing & purchased items for the child. I also began paying her once birth by post dated checks $500 a month which was our agreement. I was accused
    in a mix-up/ legal situation before the child was born & accumulated debt in the amount of $50,000 for legal services. My wife supported me, our kids & all of our family bills while I sent money to the woman & tried to pay debt. I paid her for 1 year until
    my military contract ended & I became unemployed. I asked to keep the child during the summer while I was unemployed to reduce childcare cost for her since I could not provide financially. OW would not & has not let me bring the child to my home around my
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    support papers were filed, I asked for an extension to be able to obtain an attorney. The Judge declined my request. He asked what my current salary was, & how many children I had prior to. He did not ask if my wife was employed, or how much I paid for medical
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    but didn’t add that to her gross. He used my state income table, input the st&ard amount for 1 child, added the amount OW reported childcare which is a friend that keeps the child, & medical insurance (doubled the actual amount). He totaled the st&ard amount
    + child care + insurance for a total. My income was higher than hers though OW is a nurse & in school to become a NP, & receiving grants. The cost of living is close to 20% higher in my state than hers & salary is significantly higher. Her state initiated
    the support request, I do not underst& why that did use her states income table & factor the cost of living difference. It was figured that I shall support 64% of her expenses. The judge ordered me to pay $5,000 back pay which included months that I was not
    employed. As well since starting the job my salary increased $13,000. Unfortunately, I will not be employed much longer due to my security clearance. Therefore, my current salary is one that I'm not qualified for, & I will not be able to receive any where
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  • There was a default judgement for a divorce entered against

    There was a default judgement for a divorce entered against me in the state of Texas. I filed my divorce first in the State of Jersey first, my ex-wife dodged the divorce there is proof that she dodged the divorce purposely and then filed hers after mines and served me at my residence in Jersey. I gave my lawyer the notice of divorce and he contacted her lawyer in Texas indicated she had a divorce already in New Jersey. In all her divorce when through, by default, my lawyer indicated to me that her divorce is fraudulent and must be vacated because of fraud. I hired an attorney in Texas that has file a motion to vacate the divorce, but now that her divorce has gone through I am getting hit with child support in the amount of $865 a month because of the default judgement. My question is her divorce considered fraudulent or is my lawyer under the wrong impression?
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