How to Calculate Child Support

How to Calculate Child Support

When you divorce from your spouse with whom you have children, you may be required to pay child support payments to your spouse or receive child support payments from your spouse to help with the raising of your children.

The amount and duration you will receive or need to pay, can be arranged between you and your spouse, or by a judge of a family court. Either way, the amount will need to be approved by the court and set forth in a court order.

When determining how much child support should be paid, the courts usually follow state guidelines, legal statutes, and formulas. These guidelines, statutes, and formulas weigh a variety of factors when determining child support, including:

  • The child’s eligibility to receive child support;
  • Other child support expenses that must be paid;
  • How you and your spouse share custody of the children; and
  • Both spouses’ income


The court must determine if the child is eligible for child support. Some states terminate child support when a child reaches the age of 18. Other states will allow child support to continue beyond the age of 18 if the child is still in school or university. Some states will also extend the child support on an open-ended basis for a child with disabilities.

Other child support expenses

Some states will take into consideration other child support expenses, such as health insurance, payment of uncovered medical expenses, and employment-related day care, as either part of the child support obligation or separate expenses that the parents can allocate among themselves.

Shared custody

Many states take into consideration the amount of time the paying parent has the child in his or her care. Typically, the noncustodial parent will be required to pay some form of a child support to the custodial parent. However, when custody is shared equally, the court must weigh other factors to determine which parents should receive child support payments and in which amounts.


Many states let the actual amount of child support be paid to deviate from the guidelines or formulas if the paying parent has a very high-income. This is often done when a parent’s ability to pay is a factor in determining the amount to be paid and is usually meant to prevent the receiving spouse from being paid an excessive amount of child support just because the paying spouse has a very high-income.

Child support calculators

Often, before a child support issue comes before a judge, the spouses and/or their lawyers will have endeavored to estimate the amount of child support that should be expected. There are a variety of computer programs and online calculators that can be used to calculate the amount of child support you should expect to receive or be paid in the state where you live.

These programs help both the divorcing parents and the courts to save time and money by accurately estimating child support obligations. Contact an experienced family law attorney in the state in which you live for help with using a child support calculator to estimate how much child support you may receive or be required to pay.

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