What Factors Are Used To Calculate Child Support Payments? Can The Amount Of The Payment Change Over Time?

Under the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, child support payments are based upon each parent's current income.  This includes a number of elements including: occupational wages, assets such as stocks and bonds, welfare benefits.  Other factors include the custodial parent's living expenses and the standard of living of the child before divorce, the specific needs of the child; i.e. health insurance, educational needs, and applicable day care expenses, and the non­custodial parent's ability to pay.  However, under such circumstances as incarceration, past­due child support would continue to accumulate (overdue payments are called arrearages or arrears), and the non­custodial parent would be responsible for paying past­due payments when released, either immediately or in installments, as mandated by a court of law.

Child support payments can be modified over time for reasons such as an increase in either parent's earnings­­this can include additional income from remarriage, a decrease in income due to a job change, a change in custody­­in which the child support order may be reversed, a change in the amount of time the child spends with each parent, or the specific needs of a child or either parent change due to a medical disability, etc.

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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