There are many things that attorneys can argue over, but the calculation of child support pursuant to the guidelines is not one of them. This is one of the most black and white areas of family law. Hopefully, this blog post will give you some insight into how child support is calculated.
There are several factors that the rule regarding child support takes into account, which include the combined gross monthly income of both parents, each parent’s gross income as a percentage of the combined gross income, the amount that the Alabama Legislature has determined is necessary to raise the number of children you have together, any pre-existing child support or alimony orders, the amount paid for work-related childcare, and the amount paid for health insurance for the child or children, and which parent is paying that expense.
The gross monthly income is your income BEFORE taxes are deducted. Both parties are required under penalty of perjury to disclose ALL income sources. However, there are several things that do not qualify as income, which your attorney can explain to you. The pre-existing child support or alimony orders can reduce your gross monthly income in child support calculations.
Being unemployed or underemployed does not extinguish your child support obligation. The court will impute income to an individual that it finds to be voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. If the court finds that an individual is voluntarily underemployed, the court focuses on several factors such as the employment potential and probable earnings level of that parent, based upon that parent’s work history, education, and occupational qualifications, and on the job opportunities and earning levels in their community.
Work-related childcare costs are then added to the total amount of money that the Alabama Legislature has deemed necessary to raise the number of children you have with the party. However, there are limits as to how much daycare expenses can raise your child support obligation. Each parent’s percentage of the total of the combined gross income of the parents is then applied to that amount. This gives you the child support amount that you would owe monthly. However, health insurance comes into play and can reduce one parent’s obligation, and determining the amount you can claim for health insurance can be tricky—it is not simply the difference between single and family coverage.
After you have provided the figures to your attorney, your attorney can then calculate the correct amount of child support that you owe. Most of these figures, excluding childcare costs, can be found on your paystub or taxes.
There are a couple of specific situations that can alter the way child support is calculated. The most common reason to calculate child support outside of the guidelines is true joint physical custody. There is no place in the rule for joint physical custody, which is where the child spends the same amount of time with both parents and neither party has primary physical custody. If this is your situation, you should consult a local attorney to help you.
Different judges have different ways of handling child support in these situations, and a local attorney will be able to give you more insight into how a specific court will calculate child support.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. If you are struggling with a child support issue yourself, please call our office at (334) 373-2981 for a consultation.