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Who Pays Child Support?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Samuel E. Bassett with Minton, Bassett, Flores and Carsey.

Who Pays Child Support?
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Child support and child custody are often closely tied together and can vary from state to state and family to family. This is why it’s important to find a family attorney with experience handling situations like yours to determine what method of child support is in the best interest of the child. Child custody is generally decided based on this concept, and child support generally follows.

In cases where one parent has full custody, the noncustodial parent is usually expected to pay child support in monthly installments; however, this can vary depending on a myriad of factors. To learn more about who is likely to pay child support and at what amount, reach out to a family law attorney.

Child support is usually paid on a monthly basis at a certain amount to provide financial support for the care of their child.

Child support is an important aspect of any child custody agreement. In most cases, the non-custodial parent is responsible for paying child support. It is expected that a custodial parent will likely need to take time off work, stay home, or work part-time to care for their child or children, and child support payments are intended to help supplement the care of the child(ren). However, the amount the non-custodial parent pays can vary widely.

In situations of joint custody, the parent with the higher income may be required to pay child support to the parent with lower income.

This is where state laws get involved and may change the outcome of the child support decision. While some states only consider the income of the higher-earning parent, other states may take both parents’ income into account when calculating what amount of child support is necessary from both parties.

In other states, the amount of child support a parent is expected to pay may decrease based on the number of overnight visits the child has with a parent. For example, if one parent has primary custody, but the child spends a good deal of time with the non-custodial parent, the non-custodial parent might find that their child support payments can be reduced.

There is no federal statute to govern the calculation of child support; instead, each state follows its own civil statutes.

There are three primary models used to determine child support payments. While each state tends to follow one of the three, they are not necessarily locked into just one formula and can alter the formula used to calculate child support on a case-by-case basis. The three primary formulas used to determine child support are as follows:

  • Income shares model: Income shared child support takes into account each parent’s individual income, as well as the number of children in need of child support.
  • Flat percentage income model: The flat percentage income child support model is based on a determined percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income, as well as the number of children in need of child support.
  • Melson formula: The Melson formula for determining child support is based on multiple factors, including a standard of living adjustment, as well as the needs of the child or children involved.

In any child support agreement, certain factors may affect the amount of child support, including but not necessarily limited to:

  • The child’s individual needs
  • Visitation with the non-custodial parent
  • The child’s standard of living prior to the parents’ separation
  • The needs of the custodial parent
  • The income of the custodial parent

To learn more about what kind of factors may affect child support, or to determine who will need to pay, reach out to a family law attorney.

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