The family court has the authority to order either or both parents to pay child support in any amount necessary for the support of the minor child. In this article, you will learn how child support is calculated along with ramifications for failure to pay child support if you are ordered to do so.

Guideline Child Support

Courts and lawyers use a calculator to come up with a guideline child support amount. The most important factors in calculating the child support amount are: (1) disposable income of each parent, (2) percentage of physical custody allocated to each parent and (3) the number of children. For example, a parent with 20% physical will and a high amount of disposable income will likely have to pay a significant amount in child support. 

Deviation From Guideline Child Support

Judges have broad discretion to either reduce or increase the guideline child support amount so long as doing so is consistent with the best interest of the child. For example, if the child is accustomed to a certain lifestyle the judge can order the noncustodial parent to pay more. Conversely if the guidelines child support amount seems excessive the judge can determine that the amount needs to be reduced.

Child Support Agreements

The law does not allow parents to waive the power of the court to order child support belongs to the child and not the parents. However, parents can agree to an amount that is either higher or lower than the guideline amount. Unless such agreement is detrimental to the child, the court is likely to approve such an agreement. However, the court will retain jurisdiction to modify or change the amount later.

Failure To Pay Child Support

Child support obligations cannot be waived by anyone except a judge. If a parent is not paying his or her child support obligation the other party may enforce the order years later. In other words, there are no statutes of limitation. Failure to pay child support can result in wage garnishment, revocation of driver’s licenses or professional license and/or even jail time. So, if you owe back child support, it is important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.


Because child support calculation is affected by custody arrangement and the income of the parties, it is important to talk to a family law attorney if child support is likely to become an issue in your case. A family law attorney can help you achieve your goals whether your goal is to collect child support or reduce