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Calculating Child Support

Parenting and Child Care

Child support calculation has become a growing issue as the number of divorces rises above 50% in the United States. Child support agencies, custodial, non-custodial parents and the courts are working to maintain fair guidelines that benefit all members of the broken family. Current income, present and changing circumstances and increase or decrease reviews are all part of the strategies used in determining child support.

Basic Child Support Calculations From State to State

Although there are slight variations, each state uses a common formula to calculate child support payments. For example, under New York's "pro rata" system, a formula that is equal to one of the parent’s adjusted gross income, divided by the adjusted gross income of both parents is used

  • Most family courts have some type of similar formula to New York's system, and may consider factors including:
  • Adjusted gross income of both parents
  • The age of the child/children
  • Child care fees
  • Pregnancy & confinement
  • Other child support orders
  • Incarceration
  • The amount of public assistance or SSI, if any, that the family qualifies for.
  • How many children are shared

Child Support and Deductible Expenses

Generally, before child support is calculated, most U.S. family courts apply certain reasonable deductions. The court will consider factors such as:

  • Is the non-custodial parent paying fees for medical and dental coverage?
  • Does he/she have to travel a long distance for visitation?
  • Does the non-custodial parent incur fees to manage a business?

Subject to each state’s individual formula, these issues- plus other relevant factors- may be used when considering deductible expenses against the non-custodial parent’s actual adjusted gross income.

Calculating Child Support for Multiple Children

Typically, when U.S. family courts are dealing with more than one child a simple formula is used to calculate an amount and determine a fair cash value for child support payments. The formula refers to the average the percentages that are deducted from the non-custodian’s adjusted gross income:

  • One child - 17%
  • Two children - 25%
  • Three children - 29%
  • Four children - 31%

For each additional child, 2% more is deducted from the parent’s adjusted gross income, although limits are set as to how high this can go.

Other Factors in Child Support Calculation

It is important to understand that there are many factors that will ultimately determine the amount of child support you will pay or receive. There is a strong interest within the United States of ensuring that children are properly provided for through child support payments, and unfortunately willful underemployment or unemployment, hiding vital facts, and even perjury sometimes occurs in child support cases.

The court of law makes a strong effort to uniquely consider each person’s individual case when deciding child support as a result of these considerations. Ultimately, the goal of a child support decision is to ensure that parent's take responsibility for their children and that children are adequately cared for.

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