When determining the amount of the child support obligation, most states start with a general formula. This formula takes into consideration how many children are a part of the order, the income of both parties and any costs incurred by one or both parties for childcare or medical expenses related to the children. While this may seem fairly cut and dried, it can be anything but.
When one or both parties has a nontraditional income, it can be difficult to accurately determine the average earnings. For instance, someone who is self-employed may have an inconsistent income, and someone who works a job that pays out bonuses will need to have these amounts averaged by the courts to determine an accurate monthly income.
There can also be situational variances. These are often called deviations and always have to be done through the family courts. If there is a situation that calls for a deviation, such as shared physical custody or a child who has an ongoing medical condition that requires additional expenses, the parents can present their arguments for how this should affect the child support obligation in court, and then the judge will make a final decision.
Because there are no criminal charges involved, many people believe that retaining an attorney for these types of proceedings is not necessary. However, the laws surrounding child custody and support issues can be very complicated, and there are rarely any easy cases. A family law attorney knows what your options are and can help you prepare for the all of the possible outcomes.