Once the custodial/time share arrangement is determined, then child support can be calculated. Child support is based on the earnings of each parent, the determination of the custodial parent, percentage of time the child/ren spends with the non-custodial parent, and certain allowable exemptions and deductions. The courts use formula software, such as the Dissomaster, in determining the monthly child support payment. Child support is mandatory and cannot be waived. However, parties can agree to zero child support where incomes and time shares are equal and the child/ren’s needs are being adequately met.
Once an order for child support has been made, it may be modified based on changed circumstances. Examples of changed circumstances are loss of earnings due to job loss, increase in earnings due to promotions/job change and significant health problems so that a parent is unable to work. Another change in circumstances would be a change in the custodial arrangement and time share percentage of each parent. These types of changes may be the basis for stipulating to a different amount of child support, or filing a motion with the court requesting that the amount of child support be either increased or decreased.
Parties should be aware that child support does not change automatically based on any of these occurrences. Parties should consult with their attorneys to determine if there is a basis for a requested change, so that it may either be stipulated to, or a motion may be filed with the court.
Generally, unpaid child support payments that accrue prior to filing a motion are not “forgiven” but instead are considered and determined to be arrearages for purposes of collection by the receiving parent. The recipient parent of the child support may open a case with the Department of Child Support Services who will assist in collecting unpaid child support.
Linda has years of experience in this area and can assist her clients in determining the appropriate level of child support.