Child support is a complex issue. The laws and guidelines for child support can vary from state to state, in addition to how much each state pays out in child support (the “obligated amount”).
For example, when parents divorce in Maryland, the total child support obligation may not exceed more than  30% of the noncustodial parent’s net income. In Texas, the limit is 35% of a noncustodial parent’s net income.
In Nebraska, however, “the obligated amount” may not exceed more than  40% of a noncustodial parent’s gross income.
What is child support?
Child support is an ongoing obligation that may be enforced by the court when parents are no longer together. Child support is set in terms of monthly payments made to help cover costs in raising a child, not only with the expenses related to day-to-day life but also covering college tuition or other costs for furthering their education.
In most cases, child support is ordered as a percentage of the noncustodial parent’s net income or gross income. In Nebraska, for example, a formula may calculate a noncustodial parent’s support obligation as a percentage of their flat monthly gross income.
In Virginia, on the other hand, the court may look at income shares to determine child support. Income shares are where a noncustodial parent’s proportion of the combined income of both parents is first determined, then multiplied by the number of eligible children for child support.
Who decides how much?
Typically, courts use guidelines or formulas which calculate basic child support. The guidelines or formulas vary from state to state, in addition to how much each state pays out in “the obligated amount.”
The main factors on which these guidelines and formulas are based include:
• both parents’ income;
• the number of children involved; and,
• work-related child care costs (if applicable).
A court will also look at other factors such as:
• the age of the child;
• medical expenses (health insurance and health care costs); and,
• how much time each parent spends with their children.
What is considered income?
Income can include but isn’t limited to: wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, dividends, spousal support/alimony, etc. It may even include certain benefits such as workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance payments.
If a noncustodial parent is self-employed, the court will usually impute an income to that parent at minimum wage for 40 hours per week.
A court will also consider the disability or retirement in determining that parent’s support obligation.
What are the factors determining child support?
Many factors affect the amount of child support an individual is expected to pay.
The first and most obvious factor is income. It stands to reason that you will be responsible for more child support if you earn more money. Many government agencies use a percentage of income as a guidepost or threshold by which they assess how much child support should be paid.
The second factor is visitation and custody. In cases where the parents have joint physical custody, there is a greater chance that an individual will pay more for child support because less of their time can be used to offset monetary contributions. Also, a parent who has more overnight visits with the children may have to pay more for child support.
The third factor is where you live. Each state has laws about how much child support should be paid based on income, visitation, and custody. Some states are progressive in that they have a sliding scale of percentages rather than flat rates. It means that the higher your income, the greater the percentage of child support you will be responsible for.
Generally, the more progressive a state is with its child support guidelines, the higher the rates.The fourth factor is based on how good of a parent you are. Suppose there are significant and persistent issues between you and your ex-spouse, such as refusal to follow visitation orders or habitual non-payment of child support. In that case, you will likely pay higher rates.
If you are going through a divorce or need to establish a child support order because you have found yourself in the role of a single parent for whatever reason, it’s important to learn more about how child support works in your state. Your attorney will be able to explain everything to you and hopefully put your mind at ease.
Which states are toughest on child support?
Here are the top 10 states with the highest percentage rates for child support.
These percentages listed below are based on a noncustodial parent who earns $8,400 per month (the median income level in this country) and has two children. Washington – 65 percent Wisconsin – 61 percent North Dakota – 60 percent Oklahoma – 57 percent Kansas – 55 percent Massachusetts – 52 percent Alabama – 51.7 percent Illinois – 50 percent New Mexico – 50 percent Louisiana- 49 Percent
What is the average child support payment?
According to Census Bureau data, the average child support paid per month is about $400. If that seems like a lot, note that this average amount would put you at or slightly above the middle range of what is expected in the states above.
Which state pays the most child support?
Massachusetts stands first in state-wise comparison for the payment of child support. The most expensive child support in Massachusetts stands at $1,187 per month. On the contrary, Virginia stands at the least for child support with just $402 per month.
When does child support end?
Generally speaking. Indeed, child support generally ends when a child reaches 18 years old. However, certain circumstances such as extended illness or disability allow child support to continue beyond 18 years of age.
Also, there are sometimes reasons why you’re responsible for paying your ex-spouse even after your children have turned 18. These include situations where a child is still attending college or a full-time student until they turn 19. If you’re going through a divorce and have concerns about child support, it’s a good idea to sit down and talk with an attorney. They will be able to explain everything in detail to you. You can also learn more by checking out the rest of the articles on our website.