Child Support

Basics of Child Support Calculations

Child support calculations can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. However, they are generally based on the principle that both parents must support their children financially. The required support usually considers the child's needs and the parent's capacity to provide support.

Factors Affecting Child Support

Income of Both Parents

Income is usually the most significant factor in determining child support payments. This may include:

  • Wages
  • Salaries
  • Commissions
  • Bonuses
  • Dividend income
  • Rental income
  • Certain types of social security benefits

Custody Arrangements

The time the child spends with each parent could impact child support payments. In joint custody cases, child support might be reduced for the non-custodial parent.

Number of Children

The number of children requiring support will naturally affect the payment amounts, with more children resulting in higher support payments.

Special Needs or Expenses

Children with special needs or extraordinary expenses (educational, medical, etc.) may warrant higher support payments.

Parents' Financial Status

Courts may consider the financial status and lifestyle of the parents. Higher-income and living standards can lead to higher support payments.

Common Models for Calculating Support

Income Shares Model

This model is based on the concept that children should receive the same proportion of parental income they would have received if their parents had not separated. The combined income of both parents is considered, with each contributing a proportionate share.

Percentage of Income Model

In this model, child support is based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent's income, often increasing with the number of children supported.

Melson Formula

A more complex model that considers parental living expenses along with the children's needs. It allows for a basic level of support to both the parents and the children.

Calculating Child Support

Child support calculations generally follow these steps, though specifics can vary by state and model used:

  • Determine the gross income of each parent.
  • Adjust incomes to arrive at net income, accounting for tax implications, other child support obligations, etc.
  • Calculate the primary child support obligation based on the parent's combined net income and the number of children.
  • Divide the primary child support obligation between the parents in proportion to their net incomes.
  • Adjust the obligation based on custody arrangements and any additional expenses.

Tools and Resources

Many jurisdictions provide online calculators or guidelines to help estimate child support obligations. Always refer to local laws and regulations for the most accurate information, as they are authoritative over general advice.


  • Always update the court on significant changes in income, employment status, or family circumstances that could affect child support calculations.
  • If significant changes occur, child support orders can often be modified through the court.

Legal Advice

Consult a qualified family law attorney for the most accurate guidance and representation regarding child support calculations and obligations. Legal professionals can offer personalized advice that considers the intricate details of each situation.

Fargo Child Support Attorney

If you're navigating the complexities of child support in West Fargo, ND, and require expert guidance, Circling Eagle Law is here to assist you. Our experienced family law attorneys understand the nuances of child support calculations, modifications, and enforcement. We are committed to advocating for your child's best interests and ensuring that support arrangements are fair and equitable. Don't face these challenges alone; contact us at (701) 401-7404 for a consultation, and let us help you secure the support your child deserves.


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