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How do federal courts calculate child support?

United States federal courts have guidelines that govern the calculation of child support. These guidelines are listed in the Child Support Enforcement Act. Although state laws sometimes conflict with federal statutes, for the most part, states agree on the following federal rules when calculating the amount of child support owed.

First, a child's particular financial needs must be calculated and included in child support figures. Those needs include the costs of daycare, education, health insurance and any special needs that are special to the child. Second, courts consider how much income the custodial parent -- with whom the child lives -- is earning, and how much income that parent requires. Third, the income of the paying parent will also be evaluated in order to determine that parent's capacity to pay.

Further, the child's standard of living before the parents divorced will also be looked at. For example, if the child was accustomed to living in a million-dollar house before the parents divorced, they may try to make sure that child support payments are sufficient to assist the child in living at such a standard. That said, courts are realistic and they do realize that a decrease in living standards for both parents is likely following most divorces.

Because child support calculations involve an in-depth evaluation of both parents' financial situations, courts will generally require parents to detail every aspect of their financial situations. This includes providing money pertaining to bank accounts, investment accounts, monthly incomes and monthly expenditures.

After taking all of this information in to account, and considering the legal arguments presented by both parents, then the court will strive to make a decision that is ultimately in the best interest of the child, while protecting the rights and needs of each parent.

Source: findlaw.com, "How to Calculate Child Support," accessed April. 03, 2015

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