Parents have countless responsibilities when it comes to raising children, including the responsibility to make financial contributions to support their child.
In cases where parents are divorced, the responsibility to financially support a child is formalized with an order for child support. These orders ensure both parents support their child, and there are several factors that help calculate a fair, reasonable amount of support.
What are the factors?
The calculations for determining child support, according to the Federal Child Support Guidelines, take into account:
- Each parents’ income level
- Balance of parenting time
- The number of children requiring support
- Any special or extraordinary expenses (e.g. medical, educational or extracurricular expenses that are higher than what is expected)
- Whether paying support presents an undue hardship
These guidelines establish what is reasonable in terms of what a parent can and should pay.
In other words, the determination of child support is not arbitrary. It is based on careful consideration and calculations that attempt to ensure both parents are equal or near-equal in their financial support.
Is it always up to the courts?
While these are the factors courts will use when calculating support, the courts don’t always make these decisions. Often, parents are able to work together to come to their own agreement on support. And while they will also utilize these same guidelines, there can be more room for flexibility when parents make these decisions themselves outside of court. In either case, legal assistance can be valuable for parents who are arguing over payments or attempting to come to a reasonable agreement.
Considering how important child support is for children, and the impact it can have on parents, it is crucial that these agreements are properly created. Whether this happens through mediation or inside the courtroom depends on the details of each case. Though, the result should be the same: valid, enforceable and fair orders that prioritize the best interests of the child.