Any issue having to do with children will be among the more stressful aspects of your divorce. The most contentious issue is likely to be child custody, but child support is a close second. To hopefully put your mind at ease, we’ve provided some helpful information about child support below.
Child Support Is Formulaic Based on a Number of Factors
Some decisions in family law may seem arbitrary or completely left up to court discretion. Child support is not. In basically every state, child support is calculated based on a formula that considers numerous factors. The specifics change by state, but the considerations usually include:
- Each parent’s income (or potential income)
- How many children need to be supported
- What percentage of the time each parent has custody of the kids
- Any special or unique needs that the children have
- The child-related financial contributions of both parents, including childcare, health insurance, and education
These are just some of the many factors that will play a role in your child support case. The nice thing about a formulaic calculation is that you can do your own research on how much you can expect to pay or collect in child support. Just search the web for a child support calculator relevant to your state.
Taxes Are Not a Factor for Either Side of a Child Support Order
A new law took effect in 2017 that changed the tax code regarding child support. Parents who receive child support no longer have to pay taxes on it, and parents who pay can no longer deduct those payments from their own taxes. Essentially, child support operates outside the tax system.
There is one tax consideration for divorced parents, however, claiming dependents and taking advantage of the Child Tax Credit. Only one parent can claim a given child per tax year. The parent who has custody the majority of the time is often entitled to claim dependents. If custody is relatively equal, you can work out an arrangement to each take the credit on alternate years, or split up credits if you have more than one child.
Child Support Orders Can Be Modified by the Court
The child support order issued at the end of the divorce is usually in effect until the children reach adulthood or until either parent is granted a modification. Circumstances and needs change over time, including the needs of your children and your financial circumstances. Whether you are paying or receiving child support, you can petition the court to change the order if there has been a substantial change in parental employment, income, assets, or the needs of the children.
Seeking a modification does mean getting the legal system involved again and likely going back to court. But if the change in circumstance or need was significant enough, the potential gains are worth the hassle and expense.
Talk to an Experienced Attorney
No matter which side of the child support order you expect to be on, you need the help of a knowledgeable attorney to ensure that your children’s best interests are met. To meet with an experienced lawyer call a law firm in your area today to arrange an initial consultation.