What determines how much child support I have to pay?
How your child support amount is set varies from State to State. A variety of methods are used to calculate support amounts, but most take into account such factors as the number of children, each child's age, your income level, your ex's income level, childcare expenses, healthcare expenses, prior support obligations, and any special needs the child may have.
Will my overtime be included in child support calculations?
Generally, yes, because the overtime affects your total income. Overtime will usually be averaged into the total, by virtue of the fact that judges prefer to set support based upon a W-2 from the previous year or years (some judges use the last year's W-2 only, some judges will use the average of the last two or three years).
I can't get by on what's left of my paycheck. How can I get my child support lowered?
You'll need to petition the court for a lower amount, and you'll need to be able to justify a reduction to the court. Unfortunately, the courts will not always agree that not being able to live on what's left of your paycheck is a valid reason for a reduction. Even making less money than you did before is often disallowed as a valid reason for a reduction; the court may instead rule that you are 'voluntarily under employed'.
I'm agreeing to waive cost of living adjustments (COLAs) in my child support settlement. If later on I change my mind, can I get those back?
Child support orders are almost always modifiable based on the paying parent's income. Even if you got COLAs written into a settlement, if sometime in the future child support was significantly out of guideline, either parent could go back to court and request a modification and it would probably be granted.
To incease the amount of support ordered, the parent must go back to court and request an upward modification. Local child support enforcement offices will have the forms required, and may also be able to advise you on the particulars of your modification request.