One crucial part of divorce proceedings will be determining how much child support will be owed. Child support amounts are not pulled out of thin air, but several factors go into determining how much they should be. Every situation is different, but there are some general guidelines that go into figuring out how much should be owed to support a child after a divorce.
The Child's Current Standard of Living
The one factor that will have the greatest impact on child support payments is the child's current standard of living. A judge will look at the current lifestyle that the child has, and will determine a child support payment that can help support that same lifestyle when they are living with the custodial parent.
For instance, if a child is already accustomed to living in a nicer home and going to a nicer school, child support will be awarded so that the custodial parent can live in the same area. The goal will be for the child's life to be disrupted as little as possible. Rather than giving the child the bare minimum to get by, they should be given enough money so that things change as little as possible.
The Custodial Parent's Income
If one parent was making plenty of money to be the sole breadwinner of the family, a decision may have been made for the other parent to stay at home and raise their child. If so, that parent will have been not working, and thus out of the workforce for many years. It will be hard for them to just jump right back into a career, since they may need training in order to make a reasonable income.
A judge will look at the custodial parent's income and determine how much money they need to raise the child. Situations where the custodial parent is out of work could result in a higher than normal child support to make up the difference.
The Child's Needs
A child may have special needs that require a larger child support payment. This includes the school that they attend, their medical bills, or medication needed to survive. The cost of these special needs will be factored into a child support payment so that the custodial parent is not stuck paying all of the expensive bills.
In extreme situations where the child is handicapped, child support may even be ordered to be continued past 18 years of age.