How will my child support obligation be calculated if my spouse and I separate?

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By John Jones, Esq.

In most family law matters, child support is determined by the application of the Child Support Guidelines (the “CSG”). The CSG are based on the assumption that the more mom and dad earn, the more they should be obligated to contribute to the support of their children.

A bare bones description of the CSG is as follows: Imagine a chart with seven vertical columns. The first column is the combined average weekly net income of mom and dad, going up in $10 increments. (The CSG tell us what deductions may be taken from the average weekly gross incomes.) The next six columns are one child through six children. To calculate child support, we go down the left column until we reach the total net income for mom and dad. We then go across until we come to the number of children we are dealing with. For example, if mom and dad’s combined net income is $750 a week and there are three children, the support number is $289 a week. To determine each parent’s responsibility, we look to see what percentage of the total income was contributed by each parent. In my example, if dad makes $500 a week and mom makes $250 a week, dad’s responsibility would be 67% of the $289 a week ($194 a week) and mom’s would be 33% of the $289 ($95 a week). If mom has custody of the children, dad would pay the $194 a week to mom. Presumably, mom would contribute her share and the children would get a fair and proper amount from their parents for their support.

The CSG for 2011 go up to a combined average net income of $3,600 a week. If the couple earns more than that, the child support is calculated up to that amount, using the CSG. To that is added an amount which is arrived at by the application of ten factors, which are set forth in the statute. These include such things as the needs of the child; the standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent; the income, assets and earning ability of the child and so forth.

As I said, this is a bare bones explanation. There are many other factors that come into play in the application of the CSG. You family law attorney will be able to explain to you all the factors that must be taken into account.