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This page is dedicated to child support information. Regardless of what state you live in, there is only one accurate way to find how much money a parent will pay. See the Find My State Page for more info on divorce in your state.
A note about CS Calculators!!! I have been researching on the web and otherwise, how to find the most accurate CS Guideline/Calculator. The truth is this: except for each state's non-profit website (which I have included in the next page in the Child Support Series, ANY and ALL support calculators are for paid advertisers. This means that the amount they quote will likely be inflated, making you believe you are entitled to more than you actually are. Some even charge a fee (I have seen this on some really popular divorce websites who are supposed to be giving "good" information! Please do not fall victim to this practice!
File for Child Support (NOW) using your state's official forms, regardless of your divorce timeline so that you can begin collecting benefits if you are the primary caregiver. Use the following link to go now to access your state's child support forms:ACF, which is the US Department of Health and Human Services/Administration for Children & Families.
If you are not the primary caregiver and are the non-custodial parent, you probably don't have to pay until the paperwork is filed. Although, you would have to consider your own personal and moral obligation to pay something for your children.
Child Support Calculations
Each state uses different guidelines, but generally speaking, the Division of CS where you live will be considering:
- Each party's income,
- Each party's ability to pay,
- Prior child support orders or alimony orders,
- Each party's responsibilites for the children,
- Standard of living in both households,
This is by no means an all inclusive list. You will need to check with your state to find exact guidelines.
There are sometimes reasons to award more money to a custodial parent, such as, special needs of the child, giftedness, medical problems, summer camps or special activities that may not be included in the normal payments.
Both parents will be obligated to pay, however, the parent who pays more gives to the other. Usually the father pays the mother childsupport, although, I have heard of instances where the mother pays the father. And, don't be surprised when you find out about imputed income. Imputed income is the amount of money the courts are expecting you to earn based on your income and ability level.
Imputed Income for figuring support
An example of imputed income and how it works: A dad doesn't wish to pay child support because he is mad at his wife. He quits his job. (Hopefully) Wife files for divorce, and court orders child support based on his ability to pay. His old income and job position are used to calculate child support even though he doesn't want to work. (yeah!)
Another example, which I believe more families need to know about: a couple has children, and certain lifestyle choices are made, such as mom staying home with children (better education). When divorce occurs, unless the parents can negotiate an agreement, the courts will simply impute an income for the mom if she chooses to continue to stay home. So, whatever she would be making, is what she is assumed to continue to make. So, if she was a low-earner and was staying home, she is most likely going to need to go back to work anyhow. If she was a higher earner, she may have some choices about being able to continue to stay home--but it's on the mom, because the courts see staying home with children as a lifestyle choice.
Right now, the one and only resource for child support you need is the office of ACF. From this link, you click on your state, and are taken directly to the application for your state! Don't be fooled by the advertisements concerning child support. You must fill out your state's form, and not some other party's form.
Use the following link to go now to access your state's child support forms: ACF, which is the US Department of Health and Human Services/Administration for Children & Families
Locating Non-Custodial Parents
Sometimes, a parent wants to begin receiving CS benefits, but cannot locate the other parent. Using People Finder could be a great resource to help you find your spouse. Law enforcement officials cannot possibly find every person who is negligent or doesn't know that they have an obligation to pay. Try this to help your search, the fee is only a few dollars, and could save you a lot of time and energy that would be wasted in court.
Income and ability to pay are taken into consideration, but let me tell you, divorce is never "fair" to anyone. Both parents often feel as if they are paying too much or getting taken advantage of.
For some useful information about support, please visit our friend, Sherod's site at Support Guide. He's giving a frank look at this topic!
*Is the child happy?
*Is the child well-cared for?
*Are the parents loving?
These are the questions parents really need to ask and answer.
Other Real-Divorce Articles you may find helpful:
Custody and Relocation
Disclaimer: The information on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not legal advice and may not apply to your situation. I take the time to gather the best information to those going through divorce, and offer a place for readers to learn, get support and fantastic resources, and find applicable products that are a good fit for them. You can support this site by purchasing high quality products or services from the sponsors I link to.