How Is Child Support Calculated?

Unfortunately, the Federal Government does not have one standardized way to calculate child support, so it is left up to each individual state, and each individual state has it’s own formula. Most states, including California and New York, use something that is called an income share model while other states like Texas used what is called a percentage income model. Other states use a combination of these two models, while others use a completely different method.

Income Share Model 

The child support payment is based on the income of both parents and the total number of children. The court uses an economic table that shows the expected cost of raising a child to determine a monetary amount. The non-custodial parent is responsible to pay 55.6% of that amount to the custodial parent. Here’s an example:

Parent 1 makes $2500 a month and is the custodial parent. Parent 2 makes $2000 a month and is the non-custodial parent. The net income of the family is $4500 a month. According to the economic table, the expected cost of raising a child per month is $1,125. Parent 2 has to pay 55.6% of the $1,125 to Parent 1 which is roughly $625.50 a month.

Percentage Income Model 

The child support payment is based on a specific percentage of the non-custodial parent’s gross or net income. The percentage of income can either be flat (where it doesn’t change based on the non-custodial parent’s income) or varied (where it does change based on the non-custodial parent’s income) depending on the state. Here’s an example:

Parent 2 is the non-custodial parent and makes $2000 a month. Parent 2 has to give 25% of this monthly income to Parent 1 for child support. Parent 2 pays Parent 1 $500 a month regardless of how much income Parent 1 makes.

To know exactly how much you will need to pay in child support, it is important to know which model your state uses. Once you know that, you should be able to estimate approximately how much you will have to pay each month.