States calculate child support using one of two methods, the percentage of income model or the income share model. However, there are a few states that calculate child support based on a hybrid of both approaches. Parents who wish to file for child support should become familiar with these methods of child support calculation:
A minority of the states still use the percentage model to calculate child support. In the percentage model, the only income considered is that of the non-custodial parent. A court will calculate child support based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent's income. The percentage of income increases as the number of children who are considered in the child support hearing increases, but generally there is a maximum percentage of child support that may be considered in the calculation. Each state's percentage of income considered in a child support calculation varies.
Income Share Model
Most states calculate child support based on the income share model. In the income share model, the combined, adjusted incomes of both the custodial and non-custodial parents are considered in a child support calculation. The court will then arrive at a total support award and child support for each parent is determined based on the parent's share of the support award. The child support obligor is required to pay his/her fair share of the child support amount.
Deviation from Percentage or Income Share Model
Courts may deviate from the percentage or income share model for the following reasons:
For more information about child support calculation methods, speak with a qualified attorney in your state and become familiar with the child support guidelines in your state.