How to Calculate Child Support

How to Calculate Child Support

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Unfortunately, children are often the center of divorce proceedings and have to witness the negative (and sometimes juvenile) behavior of their parents working to gain not only custody of them, but also to ensure their ex pays their fair share of child support. Factors used to calculate child support payments include income, health insurance and daycare costs.


  1. Organize your financial documents. The first step in calculating child support is to determine the income of both parents. Documents that you (along with the courts) will need to calculate child support include income tax returns and financial statements identifying income earned from pensions, trusts, social security and alimony. To obtain a comprehensive list of financial documentation you will need, reference a legal website such as
  2. List expenses related to your children’s health and welfare. Expenses such as the costs of health care insurance, daycare and education are also factors that influence the amount of child support to be paid. A goal of the courts is to ensure children of divorce maintain the same quality and level of health care, educational resources and daycare after divorce proceedings as they had before the family household broke up. These expenses are especially important for children who may have special medical or educational needs for the courts do not want services that benefit them to diminish, which may in turn have a negative effect on their health or educational development.
  3. Document household and living expenses. Monthly household and living expenses, such as mortgage or rent, clothing, food, health insurance, electric and other utilities related to protecting and ensuring the welfare of children must be specified. Discretionary expenses you may have, such as dining out and club memberships may not be included in your household and living expense calculations. If you have personal loans, contact your divorce attorney to see if they should be included in your monthly expense calculations.
  4. Obtain your spouse’s financial information and plug figures into an online child support calculator. provides online child support calculators that you may use to estimate child support payments. These online calculators are user-friendly and organizing you and your spouse’s financial information will make entering the information a breeze.


  • Contact the court and request a temporary or permanent child support modification if the financial circumstances of you or your former spouse changes. Medical emergencies (affecting either a child or parent) or unemployment of a parent can warrant a temporary modification to child support orders. The court may permanently modify a child support order if a parent’s income increases or decreases, a parent remarries and benefits from the additional income their new spouse brings into marriage, a parent becomes disabled or a child develops special health or educational needs.
  • If your court approved child support payments leave you financially strapped, review your pay stubs to see if you can make adjustments. Adjusting income tax withholdings or reducing the amount of voluntary deductions such as deferred compensation contributions can increase your net take home pay.

Sources and Citations

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