Parents that decided they are no longer meant to be romantically involved but had shared children together, may have to negotiate terms of child support. The parents can try to reach an agreement together through mediation, but if this fails, they may have to attend a court hearing for the judge to decide instead. If this is the case, parents may then wonder how the court will calculate child support payments.
Parents who are not sure how to get ready for a child support hearing can consult with a reputable attorney in their area. An attorney may not be required for child support cases, but can be helpful in obtaining the preferred outcome.
Q: What may the court consider as a parent’s income?
A: The court decides how much child support is paid based on the parent’s income level, and how much time is split up between each parent. For example, if one parent was awarded sole custody, then the non-custodial parent is likely to pay a larger portion for child support. If the parents share joint custody, then determining the child support amount may be more complicated. The court considers income as including any of the following:
- Disability payments
- Earnings from self-employment
- Social security benefits
- Worker’s compensation
- Unemployment benefits
- Private or government benefits (retirement)
- Veteran’s benefits
Q: How can a parent get prepared for a child support battle?
A: Parents who are going through a child support dispute may want to talk with an attorney for help getting prepared. A family attorney relies on who has worked in family law cases, can offer advice on how to get emotionally ready for the child support battle as well as offer representation during the hearing. Depending on the parent and child’s circumstances, the court may set how much is paid based on:
- The income level of the parent paying into child support. If a parent makes significantly more than the other, he or she may have to provide a bigger percentage of child support. The court will likely take into thought whether the parent can reasonably afford these payments after providing own needs for living (rent, food, utilities, health care).
- Quality of life prior to parent’s separation. A judge may inquire into the living conditions the child experienced before the family split up. If the child had a high standard of living before, the parent paying child support may have to help keep up this lifestyle.
- The costs related to raising a child in a certain city or state. The court may look at how much it costs to raise a child in a specific area. For example, if a parent lives in a city that has a much higher rate for living costs, then the expenses for raising a child may be more than compared to a rural area. A judge may also factor in how much may be spent on transportation, entertainment, food, housing, clothing, education and upholding a socioeconomic status.