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How Do Courts Determine The Amount Of Child Support To Be Paid The Custodial Parent?

By Stephen Daniels

Child support is a financial obligation that is adjudicated by family law magistrates or judges. The money benefits a child (or children) whose parents divorced or otherwise dissolved their relationship and no longer jointly contribute financially to the minor’s upbringing. Guidelines for determining child support vary slightly by jurisdiction; nevertheless, the court takes into account the income of both parents, the number of children involved, the cost of health insurance coverage for the minors, any special needs the kids may have and also fiscal needs of the parent who houses the youngsters for the majority of the time. This formula is used regularly, but judges have latitude when it comes to final decisions or changes in the settlement.

For example, child support may be modified if the child custody arrangement itself changes. It is crucial to understand that often, visitation itself has little to no effect on the guidelines for determining child support; it often has more to do with a parent’s custody status. In the case of the parent with sole custody, the noncustodial parent will pay a larger amount of maintenance for the upbringing of the minor while the custodial parent is considered to be meeting this obligation by providing shelter, meals and stability to the child. If this arrangement is changed to reflect a joint custodial agreement, the amount of maintenance also changes, since now both parties more equitably share the daily cost of living. The previously noncustodial parent now pays considerably less while the previously sole custodial party may now begin paying support for the first time.

It is a common misconception that all child support is paid directly to the other parent. This is often not the case. Instead, a parent may be ordered to pay funds directly to an insurance company, school, daycare provider or therapist. Since these expenses may change over time, the amount the parent must pay may change as well. When there is a need to modify the amount of child support, both parties must return to family court, file a “Motion for Modification of Child Support” and wait for a court to issue an order reflecting the change. Either side may bring a motion to modify the dollar amount; it is immaterial if both parties agree on the amount or even whether or not there should be a change in the first place. Parents must note that – until the order is entered – the same amount of money must be paid. Orders do not take effect retroactively.

Unexpected unemployment of the paying party is usually a reason for setting aside the typical guidelines for determining child support . Since the fiscal obligation continues until the minor reaches age 16, 18 or 21, it is highly likely that one or the other parent experiences unemployment or temporary financial hardship at some point. Support orders may be temporarily modified or even suspended, pending a review by the judge or magistrate. The original amount must be paid again, once the hardship is overcome.

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Stephen Daniels is an SEO 2.0 researcher for a variety of industries. If you need the assistance of a divorce attorney in Portland, Oregon, he recommends Aurora Law Offices. With over 25 years of experience, they offer a friendly environment, free initial consultations, payment plans and have flat-fee charges available for some services.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Daniels, Stephen "How Do Courts Determine The Amount Of Child Support To Be Paid The Custodial Parent?." How Do Courts Determine The Amount Of Child Support To Be Paid The Custodial Parent?. 25 Jun. 2010. 24 Feb 2016 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Daniels, S (2010, June 25). How Do Courts Determine The Amount Of Child Support To Be Paid The Custodial Parent?. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Daniels, Stephen "How Do Courts Determine The Amount Of Child Support To Be Paid The Custodial Parent?"

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