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Tag: child support policy

If a Single Mother Is Requesting Child Support, Do You Think That the Father Should Gain Custody of Their Children Instead?

Volumes have been written, and even more volumes could be written, on the subject of child support policy. We don’t have time or space to examine this question from every angle, so I will give you my perspective on the question, knowing that there are a lot more factors that may affect the answer to this question.

First, a little history you may not be aware of. There was a time when custody of children of divorce was awarded to the father. It was automatic. Under Roman law, fathers had an absolute right to custody of their children based upon the position of the father as head of the family. Roman law is the foundation of English and American common law, which is why fathers in America also were awarded custody of children in the early history of the U.S.A. Over time, especially the early to mid-19th century, idea of fathers having an absolute right to the custody of their children changed to the point that the presumptive custodial parent changed 180 degrees from father to mother, with the idea being that “the best interest of the child” dictated such a thing. In the late 20th century and early 21st century we have seen this presumption that children must be in the sole or primary physical custody of one parent alone fall out of favor as “the best interest of the child” has come to favor children being reared by both parents, so long as both parents are fit and willing to exercise joint physical custody of their children.

As I see it, the most basic purpose of child support is to ensure that each parent has enough money to take care of the child when the child is with that parent. From that basic purpose arose the idea of a child maintaining a common standard of living when in the custody of each parent. The idea that a child should not reside in the care and custody of a parent who cannot maintain a certain standard of living for the child strikes some as unfair both to the child and to that parent. And so, the thinking goes that if one parent’s income exceeds the other parent’s income, then the poorer of the two parents needs contribution from the richer parent to ensure that the poorer parent has enough money to maintain a common standard of living when in the custody of each parent.

 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

Eric Johnson’s answer to If a single mother is requesting child support, do you think that the father should gain custody of their children instead? – Quora

 

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What policies and factors determine how child support is calculated?

What policies and factors determine how child support is calculated?

This is a good question and a question that many parents ask.

Every state in U.S. has child support calculation guidelines and formulae to determine which parent pays child support and how much child support that parent will pay. Each state’s child support calculation guidelines utilizes or is based upon one of three different models:

  • Income Shares Model
  • Percentage of Income Model
  • The Melson Formula

Under the Income Shares Model, each parent is responsible for a portion of the amount of financial support a child needs to maintain the lifestyle the child would have had the parents were not separated. The Income Shares Model relies upon knowing each parent’s to calculate the support award. The parent with the lower income of the two parents will receive a monthly child support payment from the other parent. This amount is known as the base child support award.

The Percentage of Obligor Income Model utilizes the obligor parent’s income only in calculating child support. Many (though not all) Percentage of Obligor Income guidelines assume that the support payee parent’s child-rearing costs are the same dollar amount or percentage of income as the obligor parent’s child-rearing costs. The Income Shares Model considers the incomes of both parents. The Percentage of Obligor Income Model does not factor in the custodial parent’s income in calculating the support award amount.

The Melson Formula[1] is different from the other two models. Rather than calculating child support based upon parental incomes, it first considers the basic needs of the child and each parent before determining whether and how much child support the obligor parent can and will pay.

This July 10, 2020 article from the National Conference of State Legislatures [click the link to access the article] provides a list of links to the child support calculation guidelines for every state and Washington D.C. in the U.S., as well as the Guan and Virgin Islands territories

Note: legislation, regulations, and caselaw governing child support policy and calculation change, so be sure you know both A) what your jurisdiction’s current child support guidelines are and B) how to use apply them correctly and accurately when calculating child support.

Income Shares Model

• Alabama • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Florida • Georgia • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland •  Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Missouri • Nebraska • New Hampshire • New Jersey • New Mexico • New York • North Carolina • Ohio • Oklahoma • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Rhode Island • South Carolina • South Dakota • Tennessee • Utah • Vermont • Virginia • Washington • West Virginia • Wyoming (also • Guam • Virgin Islands)

Percentage of Income Model (this model has two variations: the Flat Percentage Model and the Varying Percentage Model)

Percentage of Income Model

• Alaska • Mississippi • Nevada • North Dakota • Texas • Wisconsin

Flat Percentage Model

Alaska • Mississippi • Nevada • Wisconsin

Varying Percentage Model

• North Dakota • Texas

Melson Formula

• Delaware • Hawaii • Montana

According to the July 10, 2020 NCSL article the District of Columbia uses a hybrid model that starts as a varying percentage of income model and is then reduced by a formula based on the custodial parent’s income.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

[1] Named from the Delaware Family Court judge who articulated the formula in Dalton v. Clanton, 559 A.2d 1197 (Del. 1989).

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