In 1992, the federal government passed the Child Support Recovery Act. This act allowed for the federal government to enforce child support laws, but each individual state sets the parameters on which child support is calculated. The child support system is a complex system that includes both the child support agency and the state. It is important to know how your state calculates child support and payments. 

In Louisiana, child support is based on the parents’ combined adjusted gross income. However, you may find the formula to be a little confusing. You may use this guide to assist you in your child support calculation, but keep in mind you should contact an attorney in order to get the most accurate results. This guide is meant to provide general information – there may be specific details about your case that could create different results. 

Step 1: Input your combined adjusted monthly gross income. This is the gross income of both parties, meaning before taxes and adjustments are taken from your paycheck. Combine those figures. You may deduct from your gross income any pre-existing child support and/or spousal support payments that you make, but this only applies if the pre-existing support obligations are between you and someone who is not a party to the present suit. 

Formula: (Monthly Gross Income for Parent A – Pre-existing child support – pre-existing spousal support payments) + (Monthly Gross Income for Parent B – Pre-existing child support – pre-existing spousal support payments) = Combined Adjusted Monthly Gross Income 

Step 2: Find each parent’s percentage share of income. 

Formula: (Monthly Gross Income for Parent – Pre-existing child support – pre-existing spousal support payments) / Combined Adjusted Monthly Gross Income

Step 3: View the Basic Child Support Obligation Table. To use this worksheet simply scroll down and find your combined adjusted monthly gross income and scroll over according to how many children you have. The number in the table represents the minimum child support obligation amount according to the state of Louisiana. 

Step 4: Add in additional adjustments defined below and subtract the child’s income, if applicable. 

  1. Child Care Costs
  2. Child’s Health Insurance Premium Cost
  3. Extraordinary Medical Expenses (Uninsured Only)
  4. Extraordinary Expenses
  5. Minus Extraordinary Adjustments such as child’s income if applicable. 

Step 5: Calculate total child support obligation by adding all items from Step 4 to the basic child support obligation number you found in the table. 

Formula: Basic Obligation + a + b + c + d – e = Total obligation

Step 6: Calculate your portion of the obligation based off of your share of the income (percentage you found in step 2). 

Formula: Total Obligation x Parent A% and Total Obligation x Parent B%

Step 7: Calculate the Recommended Child Support Order. The court will consider additional direct payments made by the noncustodial parent on behalf of the child for childcare costs, health insurance premiums, extraordinary medical expenses, or extraordinary expenses. This amount would be subtracted from the number found in Step 6 for the custodial parent. 

Child Support Calculation Example

Let’s break down an actual example using the steps above. Jim and Sally have two children, of whom they have joint custody, but where Sally has the kids more often than Jim. Jim’s monthly gross income is $5,000 and Sally’s is $2,500 and there are no pre-existing child support or spousal support payments in place. The monthly adjusted gross income would be $7,500. Jim’s percentage share of income would be $5,000/$7,500 = 66% and Sally’s would be $2,500/$7,500 = 33%. According to the Louisiana Child Support Guideline Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations, Jim and Sally would have a basic obligation of $1,531/month. Childcare and insurance premiums for their two children combined is $800/month, making the total estimated child support obligation $2,331/month ($1,531 + $800).  Jim owes 66% of the total figure, which amounts to $1538.46; whereas, Sally is responsible for 33% of the total figure, which is $769.23. Jim currently pays the children’s daycare facility $400/month directly for childcare costs. Because Jim makes a direct payment to the children’s daycare, that amount is then subtracted from Jim’s monthly obligation that he pays to Sally, the custodial parent.  Therefore, Jim’s monthly estimated child support obligation that he pays to Sally would be $1,138.46/month.

The larger the percentage of income, the larger amount owed by that parent should they be the non-residential parent. This formula remains the same whether the child is under sole or joint custody. However, you will receive a credit, under the law, if you and the other parent split custody 50/50 and enjoy what is known as shared custody. 

How long will I pay child support?

Usually, the parent pays child support until their child is 18 years of age. However, if that child is unmarried, a student in good standing, and dependent on the parent, the age limit can be extended until such time the child no longer meets those criteria or until the child turns 19, whichever occurs first. Also, if the child is developmentally disabled and is dependent on their parents, the age limit is increased to 22. 

If the parent knows their child support obligation amount, they can be better prepared for the court date. Child support, though important for the child’s upbringing, should not be in lieu of quality time, however. What the child needs most is two loving parents who support them 100%, whether they are seen by those parents 100% or 10% of the time. Knowing this formula can help parents feel comfortable with the amount they may need to pay in those instances. 

If you have any questions about how much you may owe in child support or would like a custody/family law lawyer, contact Emily Latiolais at Latiolais Law. Child support can be a complicated process for many parents, so let Latiolais Law take the burden off you!