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Child Support Payments


Is it True That I Only Pay Part of the Child Support and My Spouse Pays the Rest?

Often when couples come in to see me for a consultation the husband (more often than not he is the one who will be paying child support) has figured the child support based on the Child Support Standards Act formula, then allocated that number between the wife and himself based on their incomes. He is very surprised when I tell them that he really needs to go to the Department of Social Services website Child Support Calculator and read the supporting explanations more carefully. As that site makes clear:

The law states that the basic support award be set at a fixed percentage of parental income, depending on how many children for which an order is being requested..

That means that, in calculating the income to be used as a base for calculating child support, the combined income of both of the parents is used. Only then do you allocated the child support between them.

After the husband gets over his surprise he then wants to make sure that his wife pays her share. However, I have never seen any requirement that the custodial parent demonstrate that (typically) she has spent that amount on the care of the children. As far as I have ever seen it is assumed.

In addition, the site goes on to say,

In addition to the basic support award, the child support order must include medical support, which means health insurance and payments for any out-of- pocket medical expenses for the child. Either parent may be required to provide health insurance coverage for the child, if it is available at a reasonable cost. The basic award may be increased to include a pro-rated share of child care expenses, if the custodial parent is working or in school. In addition, the court may increase the award to include a pro-rated share of educational expenses for the child.

As you can see, child support is complicated; you may want to discuss the strictly legal issues with your attorney; as for coming to an agreement that works to take care of your children’s needs while dealing with the realities of your own lives — divorce mediation offers a forum and a method to come to an agreement that works for everyone.

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At the Long Island Center for Divorce Mediation, we care about helping families settle their differences. If you’re interested in our services, contact us at 631-757-1554 so we can help you.

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