Did you know that there is a calculation for child support in Louisiana? The calculation makes determining the proper amount of child support predictable and straightforward. I will help you understand how to calculate your own child support in this blog article.
Louisiana uses two child support calculations. You can access both calculations here.
The first calculation is used when one parent has sole custody or the parties have joint custody with a designated domiciliary parent. The second calculation is used when the parties have shared custody – each parent has custody for an approximately equal amount of time. Today we will discuss the first worksheet, Worksheet A, used for non-shared custody arrangements.
INFORMATION NEEDED FOR CALCULATION
The following information is required to perform the calculation:
- Your gross income;
- The other parent’s gross income;
- The amount of any other child support or spousal support payments paid by you or the other parent;
- Childcare costs;
- Health insurance premiums for the child(ren) only;
- The child(ren)’s income, if any.
WHAT IS GROSS INCOME?
“Gross income” is income from any source. It includes, but is not limited to:
- Salaries and wages (before taxes)
- Commissions and bonuses
- Dividends and interest income
- Distributions from 401Ks and IRAs.
- Capital gains
- Social security benefits
- Disability benefits
- Rent or lease payments you receive.
- Mineral royalties
Gross income may also include the value of free housing, a company car, or reimbursed meal costs.
How is my Child Support Obligation Calculated if I am Self-Employed?
“Gross income” for a parent who is self-employed or owns a closely held corporation generally means “gross receipts” minus ordinary and necessary expenses made to stay in business. For example, if you operate a lawn care company, your monthly gross income would include all the money your customers pay you on a monthly basis. You would then subtract from that figure expenses such as the cost of gas and oil for the equipment, wages, insurance, and the cost to keep your equipment repaired.
The rules are complicated when one of the parents is self-employed. Calculating “gross income” for parents receiving income from self-employment or closely held companies often requires the help of an accountant.
Adjustments to Gross Income
If a court has ordered you or the other parent to pay spousal or child support in another case, that preexisting support obligation may be deducted from the monthly gross income.
HOW TO DETERMINE OTHER PARENT’S GROSS INCOME
Even if you don’t have a lawyer, you probably have a pretty good idea of what the other parent makes and whether he owes money to other ex’s and other children. A rough idea is all you need to do a quick and dirty calculation of the basic child support obligation.
However, if you don’t know anything about the other parent’s income, you can find out during child support proceedings in court. Louisiana law requires both parents to disclose to the court enough information so the parties can do the child support calculation.
PERFORMING THE CALCULATION (WORKSHEET A)
Step One – Total Adjusted Monthly Gross Income
Once you know your adjusted monthly gross income and the other parent’s adjusted monthly gross income, you will plug those numbers into the second line of the calculation. Add your adjusted monthly gross income with the adjusted monthly gross income of the other parent – this is your total monthly gross income.
Step Two – Percentage Share of Total Income
Next, you need to determine each parents’ share of the total monthly income. To do this, you will divide each parents’ adjusted monthly gross income by the total adjusted monthly gross income. This will give return a decimal number; multiply the decimal by 100 and you will have each parents’ percentage share of the income. For example:
Mother calculation: $3,000/$6,500 = .461 x 100 = 46%
Father calculation: $3,500/$6,500 = .538 x 100 = 54%
Plug these percentages into the appropriate columns of line 4 of the calculation.
Step Three – Total Child Support Obligation
Once you have determined the total adjusted monthly income, you will have to consult the Louisiana Legislature’s child support table to determine the basic child support obligation (line 5 of the calculation). You can access that table here.
Locate the total adjusted monthly income in the first two columns of the table. Once you have located the line with the total adjusted monthly income, move down that row until you find the column for the number of minor children you share with the other parent. That number will be the basic child support obligation.
Next, you will add any child care costs, health insurance premiums for the child(ren) only, and extraordinary medical or other expenses (must be agreed to by the parties or ordered by the court). There is also an optional deduction for any income of the child(ren). These additions and subtraction, if applicable, will go into Subsections A-E of Section 5 of the calculation.
Add the additional expenses to the basic child support obligation and plug that number into line 6 – this is your total child support obligation.
Step Four – Each Party’s Share of Total Child Support Obligation
For the next step, you will need to go back to line 4 of the calculation and obtain each party’s percentage share of the total income. Multiply each party’s percentage by the total child support obligation from line 6. This will be each party’s share of the total child support obligation. For example:
Mother’s percentage: 46%
Father’s percentage: 54%
Total obligation: $1,127.46
Mother’s obligation: $1,127.46 x 0.46 = $518.63
Father’s obligation: $1,127.46 x 0.54 = $608.83
Plug these numbers into the appropriate columns in line 7 of the calculation.
Step Five – Direct Payments
If the non-custodial parent makes any direct payments on behalf of the child such as child care or health insurance premiums, that amount will be deducted from the total amount of child support owed. Plug any direct payments made by the non-custodial parent into line 8 of the calculation.
Step 6 (Final Step) – Determine the Total Child Support Amount
Subtract the total of any direct payments made by the non-custodial parent (line 8) from the total child support amount of the non-custodial parent. This number is the total child support owed (line 9).
SEEKING COUNSEL FROM AN ATTORNEY
This discussion only scratches the surface of a complicated area of family law. Although it doesn’t hurt to try to figure out what you might pay or receive in child support on your own, you should consult with a family lawyer to “check your work”. The decisions you make about child custody affect your child support rights and obligations. Don’t commit to custody or to paying or accepting any amount in child support until you have spoken to a family lawyer.