If you are the parent of a minor child and are getting divorced, there are several child-specific issues to be aware of. The courts place a high priority on ensuring that children of divorce are not affected negatively, and so should you. You can get a head start on your financial planning by taking a look at how one of these child-related issues is dealt with. Child support is nearly a guarantee, unless you and your spouse have decided to go for 50/50 parenting. Read on to better understand how child support is decided and how much you might expect to pay.
Income and custody: The person in the relationship that makes the most money will likely end up paying child support, but that can vary by state. Additionally, if one parent has sole physical custody of the child, the other parent will likely be ordered to pay. If the custody is joint, the total income of both parents are used to calculate who pays what.
Federal mandates: To lessen confusion and bring about some standards for this issue, the federal government has issued rules to guide family court judges. The actual amounts ordered are based on whatever the median income is in your particular state.
Planning ahead: You can access online calculators that will give you a good idea of how much child support you may be ordered to pay, based on your state of residence. Keep in mind that any calculator such as this one is only capable of providing rough estimates.
Standing orders: If you have a previous child support order in place that is connected to a different child, and you are up to date on your payments, you may be able to deduct that child support obligation amount from your income for calculation purposes. You should keep in mind that any voluntary amounts you provide to the child from that previous relationship cannot be used to reduce your obligation for the new order, only the exact ordered amount can be used in that manner.
Other deductions: Whoever is responsible for paying any childcare expenses can deduct that amount from their income before the amount is calculated. This includes daycare and home babysitting expenses.
A note about health care costs: The health care issue is important enough to merit its own separate section in a divorce agreement. The courts take this issue very seriously, and at least one parent will be ordered to provide health care insurance for the child. The cost of those premiums, deductibles and co-pays may be deducted from the income of the responsible parent.
Speak to your divorce attorney for information about child support.