Does Every State Follow The Same Formula In Calculating Child Support?

No.  Each state has their own child support law but each state tends to follow one of three basic models:  Flat Percentage, Income Shares, and the Melson Formula.

a) Flat Percentage – The child support amount is based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income and the number of children they are supporting.

The following states follow this rule:  Alaska, Arkansas, District of Columbia,  Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

b) Income Shares – The majority of states follow this model.
This model is based on the income of both parents and the number of children they have.  The court first adds the net income (or in some states, the gross income) of both parents. Then the court consults a table which assesses the total obligation of support as a percentage of the parents’ combined incomes and the number of children.  The court multiplies the combined incomes by the percent figure listed in the table and obtains a dollar amount that the children need for support.  Then the responsibility to pay that support is divided between the parents in proportion to each parent’s income.
For example: if the court has determined that the children need $1000 a month and the parents make a combined $100,000 annually, in which the father makes $60,000 annually and the mother makes $40,000 annually, the father will be required to pay $600 a month and the mother $400 a month.

Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming follow this model.

c) Melson Formula – Only Delaware, Hawaii and Montana follow this model.
The child support payment is calculated based on a variety of factors (the “Melson Factors”), including both parents’ incomes and the needs of the child.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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