Child Support

Definition of Child Support

Child support is money paid by one parent to another parent to help in the care and support of the children.

Most often, the person receiving support has the children more than half of the time. In equal time-sharing, the person paying child support has a higher income.

The Standard Formula

According to the standard formula, the total child support amount is divided proportionately according to income.

If Parent A, for example, earns $40,000 and Parent B, $60,000, Parent A would be responsible for 40% of the total child support amount, and Parent B, 60%.

The total child support amount is based on the number of children—17% for one child, 25% for two, 29% for three and so on.

The Offset Formula

Some parents may ask the court to consider an offset formula. This request is often made in cases where the parents have joint custody, adequate incomes, and near-equal residency time.

In this approach, each pays support to the other proportionate to their income—or more practically, the net difference is paid by the parent who makes more.

Other Child Expenses

Child support does not cover other child expenses, which need to be paid separately. These include medical insurance and uninsured medical expenses, vision and dental care, and daycare. Other expenses to be considered may include extracurricular activities, school trips, school lunch, tutoring, entertainment, clothing, etc.

Parents usually pay for these expenses pro-rata, that is, in proportion to their income, though some split the costs even if their incomes are different.

Income Cap

In calculating child support, a cap on combined income is often used, but sometimes support may include income over the cap.

Judicial Discretion

Judges often make adjustments to the standard formula for calculating child support.

Collaborative Divorce

In Collaborative Divorce, clients need to understand the formula, but they can make their own decision.


Child support adjustments are not uncommon. A lawyer and a financial specialist are helpful for navigating this territory.