For those who have minor children at the time of a divorce, one party or the other will likely be paying child support (unless they truly share parenting 50/50 and make about the same amount of money). Child support is paid until the child reaches age 18 or graduates from high school, whichever happens last.
Why Calculating Child Support is Not Black and White
Many people think that Child Support calculations are black and white. In some cases, that may be. However, there are many cases in which the calculation can be a little more complex. In the State of Ohio, there is a Child Support Calculator that can be used online, for those with combined gross income of $6600-$150,000. Even though it’s a great online tool, it is considered an estimate as the Court has the final authority on the matter. Also, as with any online calculator, garbage in, garbage out. (Note: Click here for links to other state’s calculators and resources.)
How to Calculate Child Support
At the most basic level, child support is calculated based on the combined gross annual income of the mother and father and how much time each will spend with the children. However, determining the level of income and any appropriate adjustments is where we enter the gray area. Some of the line items that make the child support calculation a little trickier include over-time, bonuses, commissions, self-employment, interest, dividends, etc. Likewise, there are several line items to consider when adjusting the income calculation (e.g. spousal support, health insurance, work-related expenses, child care expenses, etc.). Your attorney can provide recommendations as to what should be included. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst is also able to do the calculation for you and/or check your assumptions.
Is Child Support Modifiable?
A common question that I get regarding child support payments is related to future changes in income status. Either party can request a review of the child support order, if a future adjustment is appropriate. Additional information for adjustments within the State of Ohio can be found here. For resources outside of Ohio, click here for list of links to other states.
If you need assistance with your child support calculation or would like a list of professional referrals, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.