Child support is an income based model. The needs based model was abandoned in 1989.
An income based model is based on a theory that parents contribute a certain percentage of their income towards their children, and instead of having a court determine what each child's reasonable needs are, a one size fits all approach using a standardized percentage results in more consistency of child support awards.
Every child support order or agreement is required to go through the following steps.
- Determine both parent's adjusted income and add them together
- Apply the statutory percentages to the combined income as follow:
- 17 % for one child
- 25% for two children
- 29% for three children
- 31% for four children
- 35% for five children
- From the combined amount, pro rate the child support to each parent in a ratio of their incomes
- For income over the statutory cap, the percentages can be applied but are not required
- If the child support deviates from a guideline amount either by agreement or based on the court's determination, the guidelines must still be calculated and the reason for the deviation stated
In addition to the statutory percentages, mandatory add-ons are also required to be set. They are based on a percentage to be paid by each parent and cover day care and unreimbursed medical expenses.
The parent who maintains health insurance is entitled to an offset on their child support, either an increase if it is the custodial parent or a decrease if it is maintained by the non custodial parent.