Child support is a heavily-contested aspect of many parents’ divorces. Just as with child custody, child support is an emotionally-charged issue. Fathers who lose primary physical custody of their children to the children’s mother and have less visitation time than they would like often loath the concept of paying large child support checks to their ex-spouse. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, so to speak.
It is important for spouses who are parents to realize that visitation rights of the non-custodial parent are not contingent upon the payment of child support – meaning, that if child support payments lapse or are not made, the custodial parent cannot restrict or preclude visitation in any way. Instead, the custodial parent must seek enforcement of the child support award and its court order from the family court.
Child Support Is Specifically Calculated
It is extremely difficult to try to estimate what an average child support payment will be in divorce planning, negotiations and settlement discussions. The calculation and analysis are not simple. Admittedly, guidelines and worksheets are available in most states for the calculation of child support awards. However, the court has ultimate discretion to consider other factors beyond the naked worksheet or guideline calculations.
Child support awards are based on multiple factors, which include:
- Both parents’ monthly income from employment;
- Both parents’ monthly income from other sources;
- Number of children in the family who need child support; and
- Whether the non-custodial parent supports children from a prior marriage/relationship.
More Information May Be Requested
The court may also request further information from parents in performing its child custody award calculation, such as:
- How much the parties spend on child care;
- How much the parties spend on health care for the child;
- Whether either spouse pays spousal support as a result of a prior marriage;
- Whether either spouse receives Social Security benefits; and
- Whether either spouse receives veteran’s benefits for disability or retirement.
Once the family court has the information above compiled and figures calculated based upon those factors, the ultimate child support award as set forth in the court’s order is entered. The court does not utilize average child support figures or statistics to achieve its award amount. Instead, the parties’ actual data is analyzed to achieve a family-specific figure.