New Child Support Guidelines
the family court announced new child support guidelines.
those who may not know, child support is no longer whatever amount the two
parents decide to negotiate between themselves. Rather, the federal
government requires the states to adopt uniform statewide child support
guidelines and the use of these guidelines is mandatory in setting the
monthly child support amount. These “guidelines” are more than mere
guides. They are a complex formula which the court must follow. The formula is reviewed every four years by a committee
of judges, actuaries, family law attorneys and others, and a new set of
revised guidelines is promulgated.
month, the family court initially announced new guidelines to be effective
November 1, 2003 (but then almost immediately rescinded them in order to
correct a few technical errors). Even factoring in the time delays for
these “technical hiccups,” it is likely that the family court will
reissue (with minor adjustments) its revised child support guidelines
sometime around the beginning of next year.
basic components of child support are “primary support,” which is
essentially a minimal “subsistence level” amount to live on, and then
an additional component called the “standard of living allowance” (SOLA)
which is premised on the concept that a child should share in any of each
parent’s surplus financial means (money over and above the subsistence
level). The critical factors in determining child support are the number
of children and the gross incomes of both parents. The other variables in
the formula are any day care costs for the children and any additional
amount that it costs for a parent to have the children on his or her
medical and dental insurance. If these variables are known, they can be
plugged into a worksheet, which is then used to compute the precise amount
of support that must be paid.
new child support guidelines are not a radical departure from the old
ones. The same formula, the same forms and virtually the same instructions
will be used. The big change is an adjustment to the income tables, which
compute net incomes and standard of living allowances. For example, if a
parent’s gross income is $6,000 per month, that parent’s net income is
$2,982 and her standard living allowance is $4,805. These numbers come
right off the child support guidelines tables and do not necessarily
reflect the actual net income of the parent, or any other unique personal
to the tables can have a tremendous effect on the ultimate amount of
support to be paid. For example, consider a family in which there are two
children. Father makes $6,000 per month and Mother makes $3,000 per month.
Under the old guidelines, if mother was the custodial parent, she would
receive $1,280 in child support. Under the new guidelines, she gets
$1,210. If Father is the custodial parent and Mother is paying child
support to him, she would pay $520 under the new guidelines, whereas she
would have paid a larger amount of $600 under the old guidelines.
Basically, the new guidelines seem to be set up so that most parents will
pay $70 - $80 less under the new guidelines than the old ones.
who is paying or receiving child support should take a look at the new
child support guidelines as soon as they are finally published by the
court and consider going back to court for a revision of child support
payment amounts if the use of the new guidelines would be beneficial. The
assistance of a competent divorce attorney to help one understand these
ever-changing and often tricky child support guidelines is strongly