Child Support FAQs

Do I have to pay child support if we have joint custody?

In many cases, if the parties share joint custody neither will be required to pay support. However, this is NOT a given. The court may require child support even in joint custody cases. The courts can deviate and reduce the amount in a joint custody situation. The child support guidelines generally consider it “joint custody” where each parent has at least 141 nights with the child. In joint custody cases, child support depends largely on the disparity of incomes: the larger the income disparity, the more likely the court will require support.

Does my overtime count as “income” for child support calculations?

Generally, yes. The definition of income in the child support guidelines is intentionally broad. If you work a job with regular overtime hours, then the overtime pay will be considered in the income calculations. In some circumstances, overtime pay can fluctuate. In those cases, the court can consider historical averages in determining your income amount.

Does the court consider child support payments for other children from a different relationship?

If you have been ordered to pay child support in another case, then the court will typically deduct that amount from your income. The courts usually do not consider expenses or costs of raising children that you have incurred outside of a court order, especially where the expenses were voluntarily taken on after your children were born. E.g. the costs of care associated with step children.

How does the court determine income for someone that is self-employed?

The income of a self-employed individual for child support purposes can be difficult to determine. The court typically looks at tax returns from at least two years back. The court also considers any expenses that are deducted for personal items and depreciation. The process can be complicated and tends to vary on a case by case basis. The important thing to understand is that the court rarely simply looks at the income reported on the tax return or the wages received, as they are generally not indicative of a business owners true net earnings.  

How often can I have child support reviewed?

The court may modify child support any time that there has been a material change of circumstances warranting a modification. A change of income of more than 20% is presumed to be a change of circumstances.

What if one of the parents is not employed?

If a parent is not employed then the court may impute a minimum age income on that parent based on a full time work schedule. The court has to consider the circumstances of each case before imputing an income. If the court does not impute minimum wage and a payor parent has an income of less than $900.00 per month then the presumptive amount falls to the minimum in the child support chart of $125.00 per month.

Do the courts consider disability for income calculations?

Needs based assistance such as TANF, food stamps, or SSI are generally excluded from income considerations for child support. However, social security disability benefits are usually considered in determining a parent’s income. If the payor parent receives a benefit that is paid directly to the payee parent on behalf of a child then that payment will typically be treated as a support paid rather than income.