What You Should Know About Child Support

By: 
Travis Ware
Updated: 

Going through divorce isn't easy. Especially when you have kids. This guide covers the most important child support issues you need to know.

Child Support Guideline Models

You will find that the American states use one of three models that help establish the amount of child support owed.

They are:

Income Shares Model

With this model, it is expected that the child should receive the same amount of parental income that would have been given if the parents were still together. When parents are happily together, both will contribute towards their child’s care. That principle is used here. Both parents must do their part for their child.

Percentage of Income Model

In this case, the child support amount is determined by the income of the non-custodial parent. The income of the custodial parent is not taken into consideration. There are two variants of this model – the Varying Percentage Model and the Flat Percentage Model.

Melson Formula

Of all the formulas, this one is the most complicated. It is similar to the Income Shares Model. A number of policy judgments are incorporated to make sure that the children, as well as the parent’s needs, are met. It was created by a judge of the Delaware Family Court.

You can find an explanation of the formula in Dalton v. Clanton, 559 A.2d 1197 (Del. 1989).

Guideline Models by State

State/Territory Guideline Type Link to Guidelines
Alabama Income Shares Ala. R. Jud. Admin. R. 32
Alaska Percentage of Obligor's Income Alaska Civ. R. 90.3
Arizona Income Shares Arizona Child Support Guidelines
Arkansas Income Shares Ark. Admin. Order of the Supreme Court, Rule 10
California Income Shares California Fam. Code §§ 4050-4076
Colorado Income Shares Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 14-10-115 et seq.
Connecticut Income Shares Child Support and Arrearages Guidelines
Delaware Melson Formula Delaware Child Support Guidelines
District of Columbia Hybrid Model D.C. Code Ann. § 16-916.01
Florida Income Shares Fla. Stat. Ann. § 61.30
Georgia Income Shares Ga. Code Ann. § 19-6-15
Guam Income Shares Guam Child Support Guidelines
Hawaii Melson Formula Hawaii Child Support Guidelines
Idaho Income Shares Idaho R. Civ. Pro. 6(c)(6)
Illinois Income Shares Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 750, § 5/505 through Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 750, §5/510
Indiana Income Shares Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines
Iowa Income Shares Iowa Child Support Guidelines
Kansas Income Shares Kansas Admin. Order No. 307
Kentucky Income Shares Ky. Rev. Stat. § 403.212
Louisiana Income Shares La. Rev. Stat. 9:315.1 et seq.
Maine Income Shares Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 19-A, §§ 2001-2012
Maryland Income Shares Md. Fam. Law Code Ann. §§ 12-201 et seq.
Massachusetts Income Shares Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines
Michigan Income Shares Michigan Child Support Formula ManualMich. Comp. Laws § 552.605 et.seq.
Minnesota Income Shares Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 518A.35 et seq.
Mississippi Percentage of Obligor's Income Miss. Code §§ 43-19-101 et seq.
Missouri Income Shares Mo. Rev. Stat. § 452.340 Civil Procedure Form 14
Montana Melson Formula Admin. R. Mont. 37.62.101 et.seq.
Nebraska Income Shares Nebraska Court Rules §§ 4-201 to 4-220
Nevada Percentage of Obligor's Income Nev. Admin. Code 425 et seq.
New Hampshire Income Shares N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 458-C:1 to -:7
New Jersey Income Shares N.J. Rules of Court, Rule 5:6A, Appendix IX
New Mexico Income Shares N.M. Stat. §§ 40-4-11.1 to -11.6
New York Income Shares N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law. § 240(1-b)
North Carolina Income Shares North Carolina Child Support Guidelines
North Dakota Percentage of Obligor's Income N.D. Admin. Code §§ 75-02-04.1-01 to13; 14.09.09.7
Ohio Income Shares Ohio Rev. Code §§ 3119.01 et seq.
Oklahoma Income Shares Okla. Stat. tit. 43, §§ 118 to 120
Oregon Income Shares Or. Admin. Reg. 137-50-320 to -490
Pennsylvania Income Shares Pa. R. Civ. Pro. 1910.16-1 to -5
Rhode Island Income Shares R.I. C.S.G. Administrative Order
South Carolina Income Shares S.C. Soc. Serv. Reg. 114-4710 to -4750
South Dakota Income Shares S.D. Codified Laws §§ 25-7-6.1 et seq.
Tennessee Income Shares Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. Dep’t Human Services 1240-2-4-.01 to -.057
Texas Percentage of Obligor's Income Tex. Fam. Code §§ 154.001 et seq.
Utah Income Shares Utah Code §§ 78B-12 et seq.
Vermont Income Shares Vt. Stat. title 15, §§ 653-657
Virginia Income Shares Va. Code §§ 20-108.1, 20-108.2
Washington Income Shares Wash. Rev. Code §§ 26.19.001 et seq.
West Virginia Income Shares W. Va. Code Ann. §§ 48-13-101 to -803
Wisconsin Percentage of Obligor's Income Wis. Admin. Code DCF 150.01 to .05
Wyoming Income Shares Wyo. Stat. §§ 20-2-301 to -315

How to Calculate Child Support

Select your state and use its calculator to estimate the approximate amount of child support. All our calculators are based on the most recent states’ guidelines.

Remember that each from the 50 states has its own child support guidelines, which judges use to determine the exact amount of support paid by non-custodial or both parents. Each case is unique, so please, once again, remember that our child support calculators will help you to get an understanding of the amounts you may have to pay, but the Court will determine the exact payment.

When a couple is making their way through a divorce process, one of the biggest challenges is child support. Determining how much each parent will have to contribute towards the child’s care will give them a better idea of how their finances will look after the divorce has been settled. You will find that there is use for the child support calculator even after your divorce has been finalized. You could make calculations in case financial circumstances have changed.

Getting started with the calculator is fairly easy – you start by entering the relevant information where it should go. Once the form has been completed, you click on “Calculate”, and you will be given an estimated amount. This amount is what you could expect to pay in child support. The calculators are all created according to the latest child support guidelines. The guidelines are specific to each state. Just remember that the amounts are truly only rough estimates. They are not determinative and only give an idea of what should be expected to be paid.

Child Support Basics

The non-custodial parent is expected, by law, to pay a monthly allowance to help the custodial parent take care of the child/children. This is the child support that is ordered by the court and can be ordered after a paternal determination or divorce.

Usually, the court of law establishes the payments, which are based on the other parent’s income level. Should a parent fail to make payments, they could face serious fines and even time in jail.

Child Support in Joint Custody Situations

Making sure that children are taken care of no matter where they live is what child support is all about. It is strongly believed that a child should benefit from both parents’ income even if they do not live with both. In most cases, the non-custodial parent will be paying the child support to the custodial parent. But there are exceptions, such as joint custody cases. Joint custody has different definitions in the different American states.

Unmarried Parents and Child Support

In the U.S, if a married couple has a child together, it is legally assumed that the husband is the father. When a child is born to unmarried couples, there can be no legal paternal assumption. An unwed father has no legal right of visitation if paternity has not been proven. Similarly, decisions about the child’s welfare and shared custody cannot be made as easily. The court will ask an alleged father to submit himself to testing, should he not want to do so voluntarily. When the paternity has been determined, the court will order child support payments in the same way as with divorce cases.

Obtaining Child Support

Several important steps need to be taken if you have not yet applied for child support. It is possible – and not unlikely – for the parents to reach an agreement for child support outside the court. In such a case, mediation can take place.

If that is not an option, you can get a child support order from your nearest court. Whatever the case, both parents must be tracked down. Legal paternity must be established, and then the appropriate amount of child support will be determined.

Although child support by a non-custodial parent is established at the state level, there are some universal guidelines. Some of the states give a judge some leeway in determining and deciding upon the amount. This is allowed as long as the general guidelines are followed.

Other states are very strict and do not allow for judges to make decisions that are up to their discretion. Usually, the most important factors are the child’s needs. This includes education, health insurance, daycare, and special needs. The custodial parent’s income is also taken into consideration.

It should be noted that the paying parent’s ability to make child support payments is also an important factor.