Women’s Finances: Calculating Child Support
Finances: In Divorce, Consider Costs of Insurance, Therapy, Cost of Living
Every year nearly 2.8 million people go through the emotional and financial trauma of divorce. The average length of a marriage that ends in divorce is less than 10 years. When a marriage ends, you cease being husband and wife, but if you have children, your roles as parents continue. Issues regarding children often touch deep nerves, and child support can be a source of contention in many divorces. Understanding the guidelines and process for determining support may help you come to an agreement that will be in your children’s best interests.
Child support guidelines vary from state to state. Most states rely on three factors to determine how much support is merited: the parent’s ability to pay, the amount of time the child spends with each parent and the child’s needs. Extraordinary expenses relating to education or health care can also come into play. Child support is mandatory in most states, and the state provides guidelines you can use to calculate the amount of child support required.You can obtain the formula though your attorney or at the courthouse, or insert the words [Your state] child support calculator” in your favorite search engine.
Though you will want to rely on your attorney or mediator to make the official calculations, using these calculators you can make preliminary calculations of your own. To begin, you will need to know each spouse’s income and expenses, as well as any extraordinary or extracurricular needs of your children that are factored into the child support formula. These can include expenses such as orthodontic work, tutors, sports lessons, therapy, or transportation to special schools.
Your settlement should also spell out who will pay for common expenses that may not be included in the state’s formula, such as
health insurance for the children, medical expenses and deductibles, therapy or substance abuse treatment, and special school expenses, such as sports uniforms and equipment, and activity fees Future college costs aren’t factored into support in most states, but if you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can agree on how you will save for the children’s education, it will benefit your children later on.
A cost of living agreement clause in your divorce decree will ensure that your spouse will be meeting the children’s financial needs as they get older. You may also want to provide a contingency plan for how the children will be financially supported if one of you dies. Be sure you have adequate insurance to provide for this possibility.