As a parent, you have a responsibility to support your children financially. This obligation only ends when your children become self-sufficient, not when you are no longer in a relationship with the children’s other parent. To ensure that you fulfill your financial responsibility as a parent, the court may order you to pay child support after a divorce.
The amount you pay per month in child support is ultimately up to the court’s discretion. However, the court generally considers two basic factors to make the determination. The first is the number of children you have, and the second is your monthly income.
Number of children
The number of children you have determines the percentage of your income that you must pay in child support per month. If you have five or more children, you can pay no less than 40% of your monthly net resources in child support per month. Otherwise, the percentage you have to pay increases by 5% for each child you have. In other words, for one child you pay 20%, for two children you pay 25%, etc.
If you have multiple families, i.e., children from more than one ex-spouse or partner, the court can adjust your child support obligation to each accordingly.
Monthly net resources
You do not pay a percentage of your entire monthly income in child support. Rather, the court calculates your monthly net resources and orders you to pay a percentage of that. To calculate monthly net resources, the court starts with your monthly income and deducts the following:
- Federal income tax
- Social Security tax
- State income tax
If you have health insurance expenses for your children and/or union dues deducted from your paycheck, the court deducts these, as well. What remains are your monthly net resources. Once the court determines your monthly net resources, it can then order you to pay a percentage of them in child support based on the number of children you have.