The laws require that all parents support their children and provide for their basic essential needs. Basic needs include shelter, food, clothing, and healthcare, to name a few. When parents live in the same household, they usually share responsibilities and support for their children as a household. However, when the parents reside in separate residences, child support ensures that both parties provide their fair share of financial aid. Unmarried, separated, or divorced parents often have an order requiring one parent to make monthly child support payments to the other parent, who is then expected to use these payments to help care for the child. As they consider parting ways and forming separate households, many parents wonder: How is child support calculated? A seasoned New Hampshire family law attorney with Friedman and Bresaw, PLLC can answer this question and many more. Call our office today at (603)707-4800 to schedule your individual consultation.
The Maximum Amount of Wage Garnishment for Child Support
Under federal law, the maximum amount of child support is 50 percent of the party’s disposable income if they have a second family they support and 60 percent if they do not. The maximum monthly payment amount increases by five percent if a parent is in arrearage on support payments. Federal laws do also allow interest to accrue on the total balance of payments in arrearage.
Custodial arrangements and child support regulations in most states allow judges to make their final determinations by considering each family’s circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Accordingly, the court may order payments higher or lower than the standard amount depending on what is appropriate for a specific case. While parents can sometimes come to an agreement on their own, outside of court or through family mediation, most states still require that the judge review and approve the arrangement before it is final. The courts are responsible for ensuring monthly support agreements are in the child’s best interest and meet their financial needs.
What Is Child Support?
Child support refers to court-ordered payments one parent pays the other to support their minor children. Per guidance provided the child support division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, child support agreements and orders help to ensure that both parents provide financial support when one does not have full-time custody. Parents may enter into voluntary agreements and present these for the family court’s approval, or they may simply defer to the judgment of the court in outlining an equitable arrangement. Once the court has issued its order, the local child support enforcement agency oversees and manages payments in accordance with the law.
Establishing and Calculating Child Support
Child support ensures both parents contribute financial support for daily expenses and the cost of raising children. To initiate payments, a parent must submit an application to commence proceedings either online or in person at the child support enforcement agency. According to the Code of Federal Regulations § 302.56, the guidelines depict a calculation based on what each parents would spend on their shared children if they were raising them in the same home. This calculation includes consideration of each parent’s income, the number of their shared children, and other factors. The documentation parents must provide during the process include the following:
- Proof of gross income, such as recent pay stubs, bank statements, or tax documents
- Social Security cards for parents and children
- Records of any child support paid or received in the past
A qualified family law attorney at Friedman and Bresaw, PLLC may be able to help you determine a more detailed answer to “How is child support calculated?” in your particular case.
How Long Do Regulations Require Parents To Pay Child Support?
Parents in the United States are legally and financially accountable for supporting their children until their 18th birthday in most cases. The court may extend the payments until the child’s 19th birthday if the child is still attending high school.
Can Parents Modify Child Support Payments?
Either parent may wish to modify payment amounts after an order, whether they are paying child support or on the other hand receiving payments they feel need adjustment. Some of the common reasons why either parent may request a modification of the child support order include the following:
- Involuntary reduction or loss of income
- Change in parenting time
- An increase in income
- Changes in a child’s needs
- Additional or fewer children to support than at the time of the order
Each state has its own guidelines and rules about how requests to modify child support payment amounts should be handled. Still, in most cases, a judge will review the support documents a parent provides with the request to make the final determination and approve or deny the request.
New Hampshire Child Support Worksheet
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Child Support Services supplements the national child support calculator with a free online calculator, also available as a downloadable worksheet, that is designed to help divorcing parents in the state estimate their monthly obligations or expected support. Because divorcing parents often need to make significant financial decisions, such as taking out a residential lease or purchasing a home, before the court has made its final decisions related to the division of marital property and the award of spousal or child support, the worksheet can be of practical assistance in developing a rough approximation of the amount parents can expect to pay or receive.
What the Worksheet Considers
Every situation is unique, but the worksheet will help to place the following categories of information:
- State guidelines
- The gross income for both parents
- The number of nights the kids are with each parent
- Health insurance
- Out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses
- School or daycare expenses
- Children’s ages
- Special needs
- Travel expenses for visitation
Physical Custody and Child Support
One parent commonly has residential responsibility, or physical custody, of the children and receives financial support from the other. However, there are also cases in which the parents share physical custody of the child or children. While both parents commonly share decision-making responsibility, also known as legal custody, in New Hampshire courts generally aim to assign physical custody based on an assessment of which parents’ work schedule and housing arrangements are likely to pose the least disruption to the child’s existing and anticipated needs and schedule. A court will typically consider the ratio of time spent with each parent when determining monthly payment amounts.
Schedule A Consultation With an Experienced Child Support Attorney
Child support payments are financial support from one parent to another, typically the parent with primary residential responsibility. The purpose of such payments is to ensure that both parents contribute fairly to the costs of raising their shared children. State and federal regulations require parents to provide financial support for their children’s basic needs until they turn 18. While the New Hampshire Child Support Worksheet may help parents who are parting ways to estimate initial and ongoing payment amounts, a family court will also take into account the unique circumstances of each parent involved in drafting the final child support order. One of the most common questions divorcing parents ask is: How is child support calculated? For an in-depth answer to this question and more, call a knowledgeable family law lawyer at Friedman and Bresaw, PLLC at (603)707-4800 to schedule an appointment and review your case.