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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Child Support


Term Definition Child Support - court-ordered payments the non-custodial parent pays to the custodial parent to meet the needs of the child.
Application in Divorce Child support is not payment that the noncustodial parent (usually the father) pays the custodial parent (usually the mother) for the privilege of visiting the children; it is an obligation, and the failure to pay it is contempt of court. In the aftermath of a particularly destructive divorce, child support and visitation sometimes become weapons, but each is independent of the other.

The obligation to pay support continues until the child is emancipated, as defined by state law, or by the parties in the marital settlement agreement.

These payments are not tax deductible to the payor, nor taxable to the payee.

In calculating child support, the court may consider child support or alimony either parent receives or pays in conjunction with previous marriages and whether either parent now lives with a new partner or spouse who contributes to household expenses. Other factors include which parent is paying health insurance and its cost, day care and its cost, union dues and amount, and the ages of the children.

There are two methods for calculating child support. Each state uses one of these three methods or a derivation there of. These methods are described as:

The Income Shares Model: child support is calculated by estimating the amount of support that would have been available to the child(ren) if the family had remained intact. This estimated amount is then divided proportionally to the parents according to each parentís income. This is easily done by using the state child support worksheet and the estimated incomes are typically substantiated by past pay stubs or W-2s.

Percent of Income Model: this method utilizes the percentage of income formula which determines the amount of child support as a percentage of the income of the parent obligated to pay the child support. This percentage is determined by factoring the number of children requiring support. This is the most basic or primitive method for calculating support. Many people believe that it does not take into consideration many important details, which makes this model of support calculation the least exact.

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