In family courts, there are specific rules for calculating child support. The person who receives child support is known as the “obligee,” and the person who owes the child support is the “obligor.” In addition to the child support amount calculated under the guidelines described below, the obligor is usually also required to pay for the child’s medical insurance and half of the child’s unreimbursed medical expenses.
ResourcesUnder the child support guidelines, the amount of child support that the obligee will receive depends upon the obligor’s resources. Resources includes:
- all wage and salary income and other compensation for personal services (including commissions, overtime pay, tips, and bonuses);
- interest, dividends, and royalty income;
- self-employment income;
- net rental income (defined as rent after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments, but not including noncash items such as depreciation); and
- all other income actually being received, including severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, unemployment benefits, disability and workers' compensation benefits, interest income from notes regardless of the source, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance, and alimony.
- return of principal or capital;
- accounts receivable; or
- benefits paid in accordance with aid for families with dependent children.
Net ResourcesAfter adding up the obligor’s total resources, the court deducts the following items to arrive at the “net resources:”
- social security taxes ;
- federal income tax based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one personal exemption and the standard deduction;
- state income tax;
- union dues; and
- expenses for health insurance coverage for the obligor's child.
The final step in calculating the amount of child support is to multiply the obligor’s net resources by 20% for one child, 25% for two children, 30% for three children, 35% for four children, etc. These percentages are reduced when the obligor has one or more other children for which they have a legal obligation of support. Also, the maximum child support that an obligor can be made to pay from one or more child support orders is 50% of their net resources.
On rare occasions, a person can get more than the “guidelines” amount for child support, but only if the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances. Some of the factors that the court will consider when determining whether the guidelines are unjust or inappropriate are the child’s age and needs, the parents'abilities to support the child, the financial resources available for support of the child, the parents’ possession of the child, the net resources of the obligee, child care expenses, and whether either parent has managing conservatorship or actual physical custody of another child.