In calculating a parent’s gross income, the court will consider all sources, including wages and salary, retirement benefits, investments, trust income, dividends, and more. Should a parent paying support become voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court will calculate support based on “imputed income.” Imputed income is the income that the parent would have if they were employed in an appropriate job.
The court considers a variety of factors in determining child support, including tax exemptions, health expenses of the child, the child’s standard of living during the marriage, the child’s emotional and educational needs, disabilities, and more.
Modifying an Existing Child Support Arrangement
If the circumstances of a parent undergo material and substantial change, a parent may ask the court to modify an existing child support order. There is a broad range of changes the court could consider. Some examples of what rises to the level of “material and substantial change” include:
- A significant increase or decrease in income
- A parent’s move to another state or country
- A change in a parent’s physical or mental health
- A parent’s incarceration
- A parent’s remarriage or the birth of other children
- A change in parenting time
The court enters the child support order, and only the court can modify an order. A parent who wishes to modify an existing order must file a petition with the family court and present evidence of the substantial changes upon which the petition for modification is based.
When Does Child Support End?
Termination of child support occurs when the child reaches the age of 18 years or the age of 19 years if they are still in high school at 18. Child support agreements may include provisions for support after the age of adulthood, such as while the child is attending college.
Termination does not occur because the custodial parent receiving support payments remarries. The biological or adoptive parents continue to share legal responsibility for providing support for their child.
Choose a Skilled Family Law Firm
Child support and custody issues are some of the most emotional and often contentious parts of a divorce. Parents are wise to retain experienced family law attorneys who can not only help them navigate the legal process and gather the required documentation for child support determination but also act as a buffer between parents at odds over how support will be provided.
Furthermore, calculating child support is complex. You need a knowledgeable family law attorney to advocate for you as the court considers an array of factors. The child support order will affect you and your child into their adulthood, so hiring the right law firm is important.