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Four Things That May Affect Your Child Support Payment

by Theresa Hoffman

When divorcing your spouse, it is possible that you may have to pay child support, even if you plan on sharing physical custody of the children. The purpose of child support is to ensure that children are minimally impacted by the economic consequences of divorce. Check out some of the components that may play a factor in how much you pay for child support.

1. Your Earning Potential

You probably know that your potential child support payment takes into account your salary. However, many states use the parent's earning potential when calculating the payment. For example, if you have the education and experience to find a job that pays $70,000 a year, but you decide to take a job that only pays $45,000, the judge can use your potential salary to decide the payment rather than your actual salary.

This principle also applies to parents who reduce their work hours for personal reasons, such as attending college or changing careers for personal satisfaction.

2. Child Support Paid for Other Children or Alimony for Former Spouses

If you pay child support for other children, the court will take this into account when determining your child support payment. It will also consider alimony payments. Usually, the court gives priority to child support payments over alimony payments. Basically, the court calculates child supports payments first and then uses the remaining income to determine alimony payments.

This varies from state to state; when filling out your financial paperwork for child support payments, make sure to include these expenses.

3. Which Parent Pays for Large Expenses

Certain items are frequently paid outside of child support, such as  private school tuition, insurance premiums, and daycare expenses. If you are responsible for covering one or more of these items, the court will take it into account when determining your payment. Make sure to keep all receipts and check copies so that you can prove you are paying these items.

When these expenses go away, expect for your former spouse to request a recalculation of your child support obligation. It makes sense that if you are no longer paying hundreds of dollars in daycare every month, you can afford to contribute more to your child's other expenses.

4. Your Child's Special Needs

Children who have special needs, either for physical or emotional reasons, usually have expenses that exceed the typical amount of support. For example, if your child has a speech delay and requires several private speech therapy sessions each week, the court has to factor in the cost for these sessions. If you pay for the sessions outside of child support, this will likely decrease your monthly payment amount.