Negotiating with your spouse to develop an agreement regarding property division, maintenance, child custody and child support is a good way to retain control of the situation. If you are not able to agree, the decision goes into the judge's hands. Although you have some leeway when it comes to most elements of the agreement, you may not have that much wiggle room when it comes to child support.
You must keep certain things in mind when you and your spouse calculate the amount of the support.
It may seem as if the noncustodial parent is the one paying child support, but actually, you both pay. The difference is one of you spends the money or resources directly, and the other contributes to cover those expenses.
What is included
The statutes define basic support as the financial responsibility for the amount the court orders for the costs of your child's basic needs. These include housing, transportation, food, clothing and education expenses.
What affects the amount
The courts use several factors in figuring the amount a parent pays. These include the following:
- Each parent's income
- The number of children
- The availability of medical support
- The cost of medical support
- The cost of child-rearing at various income levels
When something changes
Modifications are possible if you or the other parent (or both) undergo a significant change in your financial situation. For example, if your former spouse gets a job making a much higher salary than before, you can file for a modification using the new income for the calculations. Conversely, if one of you lost a job, that would necessitate a modification, too.
The change in circumstances allows you to file the modification, but it does not allow either of you to make a change in the payments yourself until you receive the new court order.