When you go through a divorce, and there are children involved, you will spend part of the process focusing on child support. One parent, depending on a range of factors, typically ends up paying the other parent a certain amount of money each month in the form of child support to help cover costs relating to the children’s schooling and extracurricular activities, as well as other expenses.
Some people may believe they are paying more than their fair share when it’s all said and done. If your divorce has already been finalized and you are questioning whether or not you’re paying more child support than required, there are two key steps you can take.
First, take a moment and learn about how a judge decides on the amount of child support someone pays.
Your divorce lawyer should have taken the time to walk you through the various factors that determine child support. However, not all of them do.
The basic factors include:
- Your gross income from all sources;
- Your former spouse’s gross income from all sources;
- The number of children you have;
- The needs of the children; and
- The child custody arrangement in place
Remember, the more children you have, the higher the percentage of your gross income, less the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax, you will have to pay in child support. Judges typically follow these percentages: 17% for one child, 25% for two children, 29% percent for three children, 31% for four children, and 35% for five-plus.
After the judge considers all of the above, he or she will then apply the following factors and determine whether the calculation above is unjust or inappropriate. If so, the judge can increase or decrease the child support. Those additional factors are:
- Your and your spouse’s financial resources (and those of the child);
- The physical and emotional health of the child and his/her special needs and aptitudes;
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage or household not been dissolved;
- The tax consequences to the parties;
- The non-monetary contributions that the parents will make toward the care and well-being of the child;
- The educational needs of either parent;
- A determination that the gross income of one parent is substantially less than the other parent's gross income;
- If you or your spouse has children from a prior or different relationship for whom you are paying child support;
- Extraordinary expenses to be incurred by the non-custodial parent in exercising visitation; and
- Any other factors the court determines are relevant in each case
Because the judge takes a careful look at all your expenses and the gross incomes of both parties, he or she is able to calculate the amount of child support that would be fair for you to pay.
There are calculating resources available that will give you an idea of what you should really be paying in child support. Still, keep in mind that it’s only a guideline, and the judge can make adjustments if he or she sees fit.
Second, contact a knowledgeable family law attorney to learn about your options.
Not only can an experienced family law attorney, who has actually been to trial for such reasons, be able to help you break down a judge’s reasoning as he or she finalizes the child support arrangement in your case, but this type of legal expert can also assist in terms of modification.
For example, if your gross income at the time of your divorce was higher than it is now, the courts will assess this change in circumstance and determine if alterations should be made to your child support requirements. The judge may take a look at your current financial situation and decide you shouldn’t be paying as much each month.
However, since every case is unique, it’s difficult to state such a decision will be made every single time this comes to a judge’s attention.
A family law attorney will be able to thoroughly evaluate your finances and your child support arrangement. From there, he or she can inform you about your legal options.
Interested in modifying your child support arrangement? Contact Sunshine & Feinstein, LLP to find out what we can do to help you.
Sunshine & Feinstein, LLP, 666 Old Country Road, Suite 605, Garden City, NY 11530. (516) 742-6444. This is Attorney Advertising.