Determining How Much Child Support Is Reasonable

After a couple finalizes their divorce, they must also finalize terms for child custody, visitation and any monetary support owed by the non-custodial parent. Each state sets a maximum percentage, based on the non-custodial parent's income, but you can choose to reduce that amount. In order to determine what's reasonable you'll need to do some math and take a step back from the situation in order to look at the facts objectively.

Your Household Finances

Start your decision making process by taking a critical look at your household finances, both before and after the divorce. Tally up all the bills and the total income you and your spouse brought home. Consider what about those bills will change with one less person in the house, and you'll have a reasonable perspective from which to view your ex-spouse's obligations.

In addition, think about how much income you alone will bring in, now that you'll be the only source for your home. That additional stress shouldn't be discounted, but it also shouldn't be the deciding factor when asking for child support. Finally, if the end of your marriage will result in new expenses, such as child care or additional transportation arrangements, factor that into your decision as well. It's not unreasonable to expect your former spouse to pay half of any daycare costs if none existed prior to the divorce.

Their Finances

Every state is different when it comes to determining the maximum child support obligation. Some make their determination based on the gross income before taxes and household expenses, while others look at the net income after these deductions. You have the opportunity to choose which of these you'll rely on to determine what is reasonable, so long as you don't exceed your state's maximum.

Bear in mind that your spouse will have many of the same expenses as you, including rent or mortgage, utilities, food and transportation. If they are able to prove that paying the amount of child support you request will prevent them from meeting these obligations, the court may award you a smaller amount. If possible, attempt to reach an agreement that provides you with the help you need in raising your child, and won't prevent your spouse from providing a suitable environment for your child during visitation.

To find out about specific formula used to determine a non-custodial parent's support obligation, consult with your local law library or family law practitioners like Hoffman, Carlson, Lundblad, Zrimsek, Crosby & George, Attorneys At Law. Both will provide you with the information you need, but a good lawyer can help you if your former spouse decides to fight your request.