As part of many divorce cases in DC, child support is an issue of concern for many people. I am asked often, “Will I be able to pay my own bills along with paying child support?”
In the District of Columbia, child support is determined by applying a child support guideline that takes a number of factors into account when determining the appropriate amount of child support that should be paid.
The guideline was designed so that both parents share the responsibility for the support of their child or children.
DC Child Support Guidelines
The gross income of both parents forms the basis for determining child support.
This can include salary, overtime and tips, commissions, bonuses, unemployment compensation, interest or dividends, etc. The child support guideline also takes into account the cost of health insurance for the child or children along with medical expenses above $250 per year per child, such as co-pays, deductibles, orthodontic treatment, dental care, etc. Childcare expenses are also taken into account if childcare is necessary for either parent in order to work or go to school.
There are other factors taken into account as well, such as the custody arrangement for your child or children. These issues are complex so it is best to discuss the calculation of the guideline amount with a divorce or family attorney.
The responsibility for child support extends until the child or children reach the age of majority. In DC, for purposes of child support, the age of majority is 21 years old.
If you and your spouse work toward an out-of-court settlement, which is always best and less expensive than going to court, you may decide not to use the guideline figure and decide to use other methods for sharing the support responsibility for your children.
If your agreement clearly spells out how you plan to share the support obligations for your children, the court will usually accept your agreement when you are divorced. However, the children’s needs must be adequately and fairly met.
If you decide to use the guideline amount, either one of your divorce attorneys can calculate the appropriate guideline figure and it can be written into your Separation and Property Settlement Agreement.
Contact a divorce or family lawyer to discuss this very important issue. It is in your best interest to fully understand your rights and obligations regarding child support since it is something that you will either be receiving or paying for many years.