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How to Calculate Child Support

Child support calculations may vary by state, but you can estimate what you’ll likely pay based on income and lifestyle variables.


  • Step 1: Add income Calculate your net annual income – what you take home after taxes.
  • TIP: Courts often make divorcing couples fill out detailed financial statements to help them determine child support payments.
  • Step 2: Add alimony Add any annual alimony payments. If alimony is received, courts may add it to your income. If alimony is paid, courts may deduct it.
  • Step 3: Calculate other child support Calculate any child support payments from previous children to develop an annual total. This may reduce the amount of child support you’ll pay.
  • TIP: Courts often consider a family’s standard of living before they divorced when establishing child support.
  • Step 4: Calculate additional child care needs Calculate any additional annual child care needs. What these needs are and how much they cost may increase the amount of child support you pay.
  • Step 5: Look up your state’s child support guidelines Go online and research your state’s guidelines for calculating child support. This will help you determine more exactly what you’ll pay.
  • FACT: According to Census statistics, 84 percent of custodial parents are mothers, while only 16 percent are fathers.

You Will Need

  • A calculator
  • Income information
  • Household expense records
  • A computer with internet access

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