How is child support calculated among the 50 states?

Last updated on April 8, 2021

It may come as a surprise, but one of the more confusing issues to emerge for many people going through a divorce is not property division or alimony, but rather child support.

This confusion can typically be attributed to the seemingly complex calculations that must be performed, the lengthy guidelines that must be consulted and the otherwise arcane language employed by the courts in these matters.

A good starting place to help alleviate some of this confusion is to understand that there are three different types of child support models among the 50 states.

  • Income shares model: This child support model is currently employed by 38 states, including right here in Georgia. It is guided by the belief that in most households any income earned by parents is shared and spent in a way that benefits all members, including children. As such, it holds that children are entitled to the same proportion of parental income that they would have otherwise received had their parents not divorced, and that the incomes of both the custodial and the noncustodial parents should therefore be considered in determining the amount of child support.
  • Percentage of income model: This child support model is currently employed by nine states. It differs considerably from the income shares model in that income of the custodial parent is not accounted for in any capacity. Instead, child support is essentially a set percentage of the noncustodial parent’s income.
  • Melson formula model: This child support model is currently employed by only three states, acting as a sort of modified version of the income shares model. Specifically, it accounts not only for the basic needs of the child, but also for the basic needs of each parent.  

In future posts, we’ll examine the income shares model in greater detail and discuss the rather surprising results of a recently published study designed to uncover more about public attitudes toward the child support laws here in the U.S.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns about child support — securing payments, enforcement, modification — consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

Reach Out To Our Experienced Team For Help With Your Legal Issues

How The Siemon Law Firm Can Help

Contact our Georgia Family Law Firm by calling 770-888-5120 or by completing this contact form.

An attorney will respond within 24 business hours.

    Fields marked with an * are required

    I Have Read The Disclaimer *

    Our Office Locations

    Cumming, Georgia

    347 Dahlonega St #100,
    Cumming, GA 30040 770-888-5120 Cumming Law Office Map

    Marietta, Georgia

    1850 Parkway Pl Suite 715,
    Marietta, GA 30067 770-888-5312 Marietta Law Office Map

    Alpharetta, Georgia

    4555 Mansell Rd,
    Alpharetta, GA 30022
    770-888-5093 Alpharetta Law Office Map

    Atlanta, Georgia

    3400 Peachtree Rd NE Suite 555,
    Atlanta, GA 30326 770-888-5078 Atlanta Law Office Map