This blog highlights some of the basic DC Child Support Guidelines and the related child support calculation and obligation.
Along with divorce, separation, and filing of child custody papers, invariably and eventually the child support aspect of separation has to be addressed.
If the matter is court involved, that is – parties have not reached a global agreement addressing divorce, alimony, custody and support – then the court will most likely apply the Child Support Guidelines (hereafter “guidelines”) to determine each parent’s portion of support.
The guidelines enumerate and provide an equitable formula to calculate support for each parent principally proportionate to income and time spent caring for the child.
The guidelines allow taking into consideration factors other than income and physical custody. Such factors such as other children in care of each parent, medical/insurance expenses covered by each parent, extraordinary medical expenses, school/daycare expenses, to name a few.
The court may also allow departure from the guidelines in cases where compared incomes are grossly disproportionate, there is a property settlement award enriching one parent, other dependent children in the household, extraordinary debt obligations, other child support payments received for other children, extreme hardship, etc.
The court may impute income on a parent that the court deems has voluntarily relinquished employment. Here evidence has to be presented establishing that there was a sustainable employment and a child support payment order based on the income reported, and there has been “voluntarily unemployment”, under employment or other intentional or deliberate acts to subvert child support payment.
The court will then impose an income based child support payment/order according to the income that should have been gained.
Where there is presumption of joint physical custody (child spends 35% or more with each parent), then, the child support guidelines- calculation is more or less made by determining the adjusted basic child support payment/obligation through the guidelines multiplied by 1.5.
Then each parent’s proportionate share of the child support payment is calculated according to each parent’s portion of combined adjusted gross income. Then the amount of child support paid by each parent is based on the percentage of time spent/cared for the child.
The guidelines formula goes through these calculations automatically and generates each parent’s child support obligation. In short, physical custody and child support payments are inversely proportional. That is more physical custody less child support payment.
The child support obligation decreed may be modified. The legal criterion statutorily requires that there be “a substantial or material change of circumstances.” Such modifications are done via motion and reasons for modification clearly stated. The court generally grants hearing on the issue and would require supporting documents and testimony.
Change in income can trigger a presumptive substantial and material change of circumstances if the application of the guideline would render an amount 15% or more than the existing child support obligation.
In summation, the DC Child Support Guidelines are complex and somewhat convoluted. It is critical to have the assistance of an experienced DC child support lawyer to navigate through the guidelines and to ensure that you are not either over paying or receiving less than legally entitled to in child support payments.
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Family law case can be complicated prolonged and emotionally draining. Thus is it paramount to have an experienced seasoned lawyer specialized in family law matters.
Our DC family lawyers have a thorough grasp of the DC Child Support Guidelines and its implications.
Contact our DC Child Support Lawyer today for free case evaluation and assessment.