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3 Methodologies In Determining Child Support Payments

3 Methodologies In Determining Child Support Payments

Child support payments are a critical aspect of divorce and separation, especially when children are involved. Child support is essential as it ensures that children receive the financial support they need to thrive and grow. Unfortunately, the process of determining child support payments can be daunting and cause conflict between parents. However, various methodologies can help in determining child support payments, ensuring that all parties involved are reasonably satisfied.

This article will explore three methodologies in determining child support payments, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each method. We will also provide updated information on the topic using government resources in the United States.

Methodology 1: Income Shares Model

The income shares model is one of the most common child support methodologies used in the United States. The model calculates the amount of financial support that each parent should contribute based on their income. This model considers both parents’ incomes and the number of children in the family. It also takes into account the cost of raising children as per the family income.

In using this model, the court will calculate both parents’ total income by considering their earnings, investments, income from benefits, and other sources of taxable income. After determining the total income of both parents, the court will then consider the number of children in the family. The court will then use state guidelines to calculate the expected expenses of raising children based on the family’s income.

The income shares model has various advantages. First, it is based on objective standards, which makes it easier for courts to determine child support payments. Additionally, it provides the courts with a clear, comprehensive structure that gives fair and equitable results. This model also helps parents understand how much they need to pay based on their income and the number of children they need to support.

However, the income shares model can have some drawbacks. The model can be overly rigid, as it applies to all parents regardless of the circumstances. This can lead to cases where either parent feels that their contribution is unjust. Additionally, the model does not consider the unique needs and expenses of the child, such as education, medical expenses, and extracurricular activities, which are often beyond the scope of the guidelines.

Methodology 2: Percentage of Income Model

The percentage of income model is another technique that helps determine child support payments. This approach calculates child support payment based on a percentage of the parent’s income. The percentage typically ranges between 20 and 40 percent, depending on the number of children in the family.

In using this model, the court will determine the parent’s gross income, which is the total income earned before taxes and deductions. The court will then multiply the gross income by the percentage, taking into account the number of children to calculate the expected child support payment.

The percentage of income model has some advantages. First, it is easy to understand and apply as it requires only the parent’s gross income. Additionally, the model considers the child’s best interests by ensuring that the parent who earns more income contributes more towards supporting the child.

However, this model also has some drawbacks. The model does not consider the custodial parent’s income, which means it is possible for non-custodial parents to pay more than they should. Additionally, the model does not account for other expenses that may arise, such as medical care and educational expenses, which can lead to further conflict between parents.

Methodology 3: Family Needs Model

The family needs model is a collaborative approach that focuses on the family’s needs and expenses rather than solely on the parent’s income. This model requires the parents to work out all of the child’s needs and expenses and agree on how to divide the burden of financial responsibility. This approach is typically used in situations where both parents have good communication and are willing to work together for the benefit of their child.

In using this model, the parents will work together to identify the child’s needs and expenses, such as food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and education. After deciding on these expenses, the parents will determine each parent’s contribution to the child’s needs in proportion to their income.

The family needs model has some advantages. First, it is flexible and allows both parents to determine what is best for their child. It also considers all the unique expenses of the child that may not be accounted for in other models. Additionally, it avoids the need for court intervention and decreases the likelihood of conflict and ill-will between parents.

However, this model can be challenging to implement in situations where communication between parents is difficult. Additionally, it can lead to unequal support if one parent earns significantly less than the other parent.


Determining child support payments is an essential aspect of divorce and separation, and it is important that the process is done fairly and equitably. Three methodologies can be used to determine child support payments, namely income shares model, percentage of income model, and family needs model. While each approach has its advantages and disadvantages, all aim to ensure that children receive the financial support they need to grow and thrive.

As of 2021, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement provides a range of services, including managing state-run child support programs, establishing paternity, collecting child support payments, and enforcing child support. Additionally, the Office of Child Support Enforcement has enforced the Federal Child Support Guidelines since 1992, which provides a standard of formulas and procedures for state courts to use when calculating child support payments.

In any case, parents should take a cooperative approach when determining child support payments, especially if they want to maintain a healthy relationship for their child’s benefit. Good communication, an openness for negotiation, and a willingness to compromise should help avoid any conflicts and ensure that all parties involved are satisfied with the outcome.

Child Support Explained

The determination of Child support payments is passed down from the presiding family court; the amount of payment is determined by a variety of social, economic, and professional factors. A child support payment is monies paid by the non-custodial parent to the parent acting as the primary care custodian – or the custodial parent.

3 Methodologies Undertaken in the Determination of Child Support Payments

Within the legal field of family law, the determination of child support payments can be undertaken in 3 primary methods. The determination – and subsequent authentication – of child support payments may vary in accordance the specific details and factors of the relationship shared by the parents:

Child Support Payment Method #1: Financial Investigation

There primary criteria in the determination of child support payments is the review of the economic and financial status of both parties involved; this investigation will typically include not only the financial status of an individual parent with regard to the expenses incurred by children, but also the economic status notwithstanding any or all expenses incurred by children involved:

The amount of income earned by both parents – custodial and non-custodial – is factored in to the determination of child support. Due to the fact that both parents maintain the right to life and earnings that allow for their respective needs to be met, the apportionment of income is allotted upon the determination of child support payments

The custodial responsibility – both parental, as well as financial – is factored into the determination of a child support payment. In the event that the parental role that one parent has well-outweighs the other parent’s role, the magnitude of responsibility is taken into consideration upon factoring child support

The larger the number of children involved in a child support settlement will typically result in an increased prospective child support payments – more children is proportional to more responsibility, including both financial and parental. Both parents are required to provide an equal amount of child support – in a varied capacity – for their shared children

Child Support Payment Method #2: Child Support Calculator

Child support orders are legally binding documents that require non-custodial parent to provide monthly financial support for the child and/or children. Formulas used to calculate the amount of maintenance non-custodial parent owes to the custodial parent take into account how much money each parent ears, the amount of additional income to which each parent is entitled, how many children need support, how much time both parents pass their child and/or children, the cost of health insurance, the cost of childcare, and other pertinent details.

However, the implicit purpose of a child support calculator is informational, and it does not take into account the extra costs; the presiding court has final authority to determine the amount of alimony awarded.

Child Support Payment Method #3: Court Mandated Investigation

The presiding court can appoint a trained medical professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or family case worker in order to perform an assessment of the roles, relationships, and quality of character of each parent involved in the litigation of child support payments. Upon the investigative measures undertaken with regard to the parents and family members, the substantiation of solvency can be authenticated.