Child support can be one of the most contentious issues during a divorce. One parent may feel it’s unfair to pay so much support if they’re sharing custody, for example, or the other may not feel that they’re getting enough financial support to meet their child’s basic needs.
When you have questions about child support, it’s important that you’re able to talk to your attorney about them. Child support is usually determined with state guidelines and calculations, but you and your spouse can set up your own support plan as well (so long as your agreement is reasonable).
How does a court determine child support benefits?
Each state uses an income-based formula to determine each parent’s share of their child’s financial support. How much someone will pay in child support depends on factors such as:
- Your child’s health care costs
- Expenses for extracurricular activities
- The number of children involved
- Child care costs
- Each parent’s income and resources
In addition, the amount of parenting time each parent is also factored into the issue of support.
When can you negotiate a different support amount?
Parents sometimes choose to negotiate a child support agreement that doesn’t follow the recommended guidelines and submit that agreement to the court. Sometimes, a parent has a very large income or lots of assets, so they can afford to provide more support than the formula might indicate. Sometimes a child simply has extraordinary expenses that need to be considered. In other cases, parents may negotiate for a lower support payment because the parent expected to pay has financial problems or their own extraordinary needs.
If you intend to negotiate with your child’s other parent about child support, it’s smart to have an experienced attorney’s assistance. Your attorney can assist with the negotiations and review any potential agreement for problems that may make it unacceptable to the court.