Agreeing on Child Support in an Uncontested Divorce
Divorce is never easy, but going through an uncontested divorce is less difficult for everyone involved. The lack of drama is especially comforting when there are children involved. One area that takes some parents a little more work to agree on is the payment of child support. Normally, it is the person who retains custody of the children the majority of the time that will be awarded child support that’s paid by the other parent. Ultimately, an agreement needs to be made in regards to what is fair and appropriate. The amount should be enough that the children will be able to retain the same economic status they know, while taking into account the non-custodial parent’s need to make a living for themselves without being forced into a hardship.
Determining Child Support Payments
In order to keep the amount of child support fair, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has developed specific guidelines for calculating child support that uses a mathematical formula that looks at the combined income of both parents, and calculates a certain percentage of that amount. A child support worksheet and guidelines chart can be consulted to determine an expected payment if no special circumstances exist. It also makes provisions for health insurance costs or special or extensive medical expenses that the child or support paying parent might have. Extra child care expenses are considered too if helps the other parent work or attend a program to increase their own income. Travel expenses attributed to maintaining a relationship with the child also count. For example, there may be a reduction if the custodial parent moves out of the area and results in the parent or child needing to fly out in order to spend time together.
Before the divorce goes through, a divorce attorney can make an approximate calculation of how much a child support payment is likely to be. Both parents who are divorcing amicably will sometimes decide on a different amount based on their own needs and calculations. If both parties agree on the amount, it is possible to over-ride the formula set by the state.
Another circumstance that can affect the amount of child support paid is whether or not the person paying support is in the military. The person’s base pay and other benefits are looked at differently than civilian pay, and there are times that military obligations affect the service person’s ability to earn income in the civilian sector. Parents can also decide independently which person will handle the responsibility of health insurance for the child, as well as how to handle related expenses that aren’t covered by insurance.
Keeping Child Support Orders Current
Just as income levels and family living situations are not set in stone, neither are child support orders. The latest provisions of the law allow for child support calculations to be revisited every three years to determine whether or not the initial calculations are still applicable with the current situation. Whether child support is being determined for the first time, or is being revisited due to changes in someone’s income or life situation, Infinity Law Group provides free phone consultations where they can help parents understand how the child support guidelines apply to them.