Summary: If you’re new to the whole single parent thing, you might be wondering, how much should you pay for child support? It’s a reasonable question, especially if you’re trying to answer it without legal advice. The exact amount will, of course, vary from individual to individual. But it’s incredibly important that you keep up with your payments, no matter
It can be difficult to put a price on the happiness of your child. And yet, we all need to set budgets. For most of us, finances are limited, and so we always need to be making choices. When your family is non traditional, those choices can become more complicated. How much should you pay for child support, for example?
How Much Should You Pay for Child Support Every Month?
The answer to this question is going to vary depending on state and county laws where you reside. Some states calculate child support based on one parent’s income. Other jurisdictions look at the combined income of both parents. Needless to say, things can get a little complex–and they can do so in a hurry.
Knowing How Much You Should Pay
How much you pay for child support will usually be determined by a court or by the county. In most cases, both parents are involved in this process, and a good arbitrator will try to find an accommodation that’s fair to all parties involved. The most common formulation of child support used to be a straight percentage: in many cases, it was 20% of one’s take-home income.
That’s not the case as often these days. The incomes of both parents are taken into account in many areas. If you’re the one paying child support, that can either raise or lower the amount you owe. What’s important is that the child receives what is necessary and fair. In other words, when most courts or parties agree on child support, it’s the needs of the child that tend to come first. That particular priority is often argued against.
Causes for Increases and Decreases
However, just because you’ve agreed on a certain amount for child support doesn’t mean that amount will stay constant. There are several factors that can alter the amount of child support you might owe:
- A change in your occupation or living situation: If you lose your job or if you you get promoted, the amount of child support you owe on a monthly basis could likely change. These changes will have to be approved by the court, in many cases, so it’s important not to change what you pay willy-nilly. In most cases, you’ll need some kind of arbitration or approval.
- Cost of living adjustments: Perhaps the most common way that child support obligations increase is through cost of living adjustments. These adjustments assume that, all else being equal, living gets more expensive every year. Usually these increases are in some way tied to inflation. And they’re designed to make sure that one is able to maintain one’s lifestyle from year to year.
Of course, there are other major life events that can alter the amount that you are obligated to pay. But I cannot stress enough that any changes need to be approved by a court or the county or whatever jurisdiction you pay into. Even if you lose your job, you cannot skip child support payments without the possibility of incurring significant legal penalties.
Fulfilling an Obligation
However much you end up having to pay, it’s important to remember that your child support payments are an obligation. You owe that money because you have a responsibility to your child. It’s incredibly important that you honor that obligation and support your child in whatever ways possible. How much should you pay in child support? As much as you–and it’s your job to live up to that. You know, that’s what parents do.