How is Child Support Determined?

By: Cody Farrens | September 2021 | Family Law

Photo of Family Law - Child Support 4All custody cases require a child support calculation. Most parents are more than willing to pay child support to ensure their children are provided for with the resources they deserve. But the question always comes up – what is the right amount? Most states (including Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota) have Child Support Guidelines, which is a formula for determining the amount of support owed and by whom. It is simply a calculation which takes into account the income of the parties, the number of children involved, and various other factors. But like anything else in a custody case – it is never quite that simple.

When determining child support, all the calculations begin with the income of both parents. Although this may seem like an easy task, it is often far from simple. Many times, the parents’ income fluctuates every year, or even month to month. Some parents have only seasonal income and sporadic overtime. This does not even mention parents who receive state or federal support, parents who receive support from family members, parents who have a second part-time job, parents who have re-married, parents who are already paying support for another child, or a parent who is paying spousal support. All these factors can affect the amount of support owed. Even that does not end the analysis, as the Courts will also look at the amount of time each parent is actually caring for the child and who is paying for the day-to-day expenses (school fees, extracurricular activity fees, daycare, etc.).


Photo of Family Law - Child Support 2A common question is whether parents can simply agree to a specific amount for support or agree that neither parent will pay child support. As an initial matter – private agreements between parents to provide support are not enforceable unless they are approved by a court. So, even if both parents agree, it is important to get it approved by the court. It is possible to reach an agreement on the amount of support different than what the Child Support Guidelines call for. However, your agreement will only be approved if you provide legitimate reasons for deviating from the Guideline amount.

Ultimately, child support is one of those issue that seems simple but can become complex very quickly. It is best to have a professional who understands the complexities run the calculation for you. There are plenty of free child support calculators available online to provide an estimate of what you can expect, but those calculators are not updated regularly and may not provide a precise number. Oftentimes, child support is a central component to resolving cases involving children, so it is important to work with an attorney who has a comprehensive understanding of the complexity of this issue to make sure you are receiving the amount you deserve or, on the other hand, are paying your fair share.


As always, the lawyers at Tigges, Bottaro & Lessmann, LLP Law Firm are centered on providing exceptional legal services to the people of Siouxland and the surrounding area. The attorneys pride themselves on being first-rate advocates, ensuring their client’s rights and interests are protected and each voice is always heard. Using their knowledge, expertise, and over 240 years collective experience, they aim to deliver the best results possible for their clients.


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