Child support is a contentious issue in almost all cases involving children, no matter the parents' level of income. The new 2021 Child Support Guidelines calculate the "presumed" child support amount to be paid by one parent to the other. This presumed amount is what a judge will order as child support unless there is some reason to deviate from that amount. Most frequently, this presumed amount is treated as the exact child support amount for that family.
For families with combined income higher than $400,000, however, things get more complicated. For families that earn more than $400,000 in total, the child support calculation is the presumed MINIMUM amount of child support only for the first $400,000 of income. That means that whatever number that the guidelines calculation spits out is the starting point for a judge. Judges have tremendous discretion when ordering child support on the remaining income that was not considered in the first $400,000. For a family that earns $500,000, that means there is $100,000 that a judge may or may not consider for additional child support payments.
Many judges will apply a flat percentage to this overage amount as additional child support, commonly 10% (though, again, this is at the judge's discretion). There are other factors considered, though, including:
- uninsured medical expenses
- extracurricular activities
- college expenses
- children's vehicles
- child care
A judge could decide that the higher-earning parent will pay 100% of the children's uninsured medical expenses and extracurricular activities and there is no additional payment for the income over $400,000. Or not. It is completely in the discretion of the judge. Parents should be careful when agreeing to changes in child support because sometimes changes have unintended consequences. In cases such as these, it is a good idea to at least speak with an attorney to discuss your particular situation. As always, you can contact us for a free consultation and we can brainstorm ways to increase (or mitigate) child support.