In most cases, the amount of child support owed by one parent is determined on the basis of a legislative formula that includes the cost of work-related child care, the gross income of both parents, health coverage for the child on one parent's health insurance and any medical expenses not covered by insurance. A court considers all of these elements in deciding on the appropriate support payment that will ensure that the best interests of the child are met.
The parent who provides financial support for the child is usually the noncustodial parent. Failure to provide child support payments on a timely basis is considered an unlawful act and can result in legal punishment. Supporting parents who move to other states to avoid payment risk federal penalties.
If a supporting parent faces financial problems because of job loss, unemployment or other life changes or if the circumstances for the child being supported change significantly, the supporting parent can ask to have a support order modified. For instance, if the custodial parent remarries, a court order could be modified if the child's household income significantly increases.
Anyone who is receiving or paying child support but needs it to be modified should always talk to a professional attorney. An experienced attorney can help request a change in a court's support order so that it continues to meet the best interests of a child while also offering financial relief.