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How Is a Child Support Agreement Reached?

Steps include income assessment, plan creation, court approval for reaching child support agreement. Get help now.

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    Parents have an obligation to meet the needs of their children and to provide for their well-being. That is why when they divorce, or when there was never a marriage to begin with and they are separated, they must come to an agreement on child support.

    How Is a Child Support Agreement Reached?

    While it is possible to reach an agreement without going to court, in the event that they cannot work it out, each state has guidelines that the court follows to establish which parent must pay child support and how much the amount of support will be. 

    When a separation occurs, the first thing to be decided is which parent the child will live with. This is determined by a child custody agreement.

    Normally, it is the non-custodial parent who pays child support to the custodial parent. This is because the custodial parent carries a lot of living expenses, so the child support is intended to even out the costs of meeting all of the child’s needs. In legal terms, the parent who pays child support is called the “obligor” and the one who receives it is called the “obligee”.

    How Is Child Support Determined?

    How Is Child Support Determined?

    The first thing to be calculated is the obligor’s Net Monthly Income (NMI). For this, all wages and salaries will be taken into account, including bonuses, commissions, tips, and other extra money. Any self-employment income will also be included. In addition, interest and dividends, royalty income, and net income from rental property will be considered. And even if the parent is unemployed, there is other income that will be taken into account, such as retirement benefits, pensions, severance pay, and unemployment or disability benefits.

    After gathering this information, there will be certain variables that can raise or lower the final figure, such as social security taxes, union dues, federal income tax, the cost of the child’s health insurance and who pays it. Consideration will also be given to whether the parent has high expenses, is responsible for the financial needs of a disabled family member, has very high or very low income, or has educational expenses to enhance their own income, or if either parent receives alimony from a previous marriage, is paying alimony from a previous marriage, or is responsible for children from a previous (or subsequent) marriage.

    After determining the Net Monthly Income of the parent, the percentage of this that would go to child support will be determined based on the number of children that are part of the process in the following way:

    One child = 20% of the NMI

    Two children = 25% of the NMI

    Three children = 30% of NMI

    Four children = 35% of NMI

    Five children = 40% of NMI

    Six children or more = At least the same as for five children

    However, note that there are two thresholds that can change this percentage. If the obligor has a monthly income below $1,000, the standard percentage figure will drop by 5%. On the other hand, if the non-custodial parent has a Net Monthly Income above $9,200, the judge may increase the percentage taking into account the needs of the child and the income of both parents.

    Child Support Modification

    Child Support Modification

    There are certain circumstances that may justify a change in the initial child support agreement. However, this change must be significant and proven in court. Some of these situations may be a chronic or disabling illness on the part of either parent, loss of employment, permanent disability of either parent, or changes in the child’s needs such as a major medical situation.

    Why Hire a Child Support Lawyer

    The process of reaching an agreement for child support can be stressful and draining, especially if the other party is not very cooperative. This is why hiring a family lawyer is a good idea.

    A family law attorney has a thorough understanding of child support guidelines and will seek the fairest amount of child support to ensure the well-being of your child. Plus, another key part of ensuring a beneficial outcome is knowing the court procedures. A family lawyer will know how to present your case and justify your petitions and claims. Remember that you will always be at a disadvantage if the other side has legal advocacy and you do not, so it is best to be well-prepared from the beginning.

    At AMS Law Group, we have family law attorneys who will defend your rights and those of your child. Our personalized and understanding approach will help you feel at ease during the process, and we guarantee that we will seek the best agreement for you and your family. Contact us for a free consultation so we can evaluate your case. 

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