Anchorage Child Support Attorney
Compassionate and Experienced Legal Advocates for You
Child support is an important point of negotiation in post-divorce proceedings. Denali Law Group represents clients throughout Anchorage in child support cases, whether you seek to negotiate an order or modify an existing one. Let a compassionate and knowledgeable attorney handle your case.
Determining Child Support
In Alaska, courts must follow specific guidelines to determine the amount of child support a parent may be required to pay. The most important factor considered is income. The child support calculation starts with figuring out each parent’s annual or monthly gross income, which includes unemployment compensation and the value of certain employer-provided benefits, such as housing and meals. This does not include public-assistance benefits.
After determining gross income, a court will then consider net income. This is determined by taking the gross income and subtracting allowable deductions, such as income taxes, mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement contributions, some voluntary retirement contributions, Social Security contributions, court-ordered payments such as child support for children of other relationships, and the cost of necessary work-related child-care.
Factoring in Custody
A significant factor impacting the amount of child support a parent must pay will be the custody arrangement the parents currently have in place, because the percentage of each parent’s net income that will be included in a support order depends on the amount of time they spend with the children. The types of custody considered in child support are primary, shared, divided, and hybrid custody.
A court considers one parent to have primary custody if the child lives with that parent for more than 30% of the time (generally 110 overnight stays per year) and with the other parent for less than 30% of the time. To calculate child support in a primary custody arrangement, the court will likely multiply the noncustodial parent’s annual net income by 20% for one child, 27% for two children, and 33% for three children. If there are more than three children, they will add an additional 3% for each additional child. Note that if a parent exercises extended visitation time with a child, the court may allow that parent a credit against their child support amount, even if the extended visitation time doesn’t equal the 30% needed for shared custody.
A shared custody arrangement means the children live with each parent at least 30% of the year. Courts assume that in shared custody arrangements each parent pays for a considerable percentage of child-related expenses while the kids are with that parent. For instance, if one parent has the kids for a week, that parent will likely spend money on kid-related food, clothing, and entertainment, which means the total costs of support tend to be significantly higher. As a result, the court will order the parent who doesn’t have the kids for that week to pay 1.5 times the difference between the amount they owe and the week’s expenses from the parent with the kids.
In a case of divided custody, each parent has primary physical custody of at least one child from the relationship, and the parents don’t have shared custody of any of their children. To determine support in these situations, the guidelines look separately at each parent who has primary physical custody of one or more children. With hybrid custody, at least one of the parents has primary physical custody of at least one child of the relationship, and the parents have shared custody of at least one other child. Determining child support in this kind of custody situation depends heavily on the situation in the eyes of the court. Note that the law deems divided custody and hybrid custody to be “unusual circumstances,” so a court can vary the support amounts in these cases.
Note that in any of the custody scenarios, the minimum permissible support amount is $50 per month, which applies for all the children, not to each child separately.
Modifications to Support
A court may deviate from the child support guidelines if it finds that unusual circumstances exist, such as an especially large family size, very high or low family income, or extraordinary health expenses. A parent seeking to change or modify a child support order must show a material change in their circumstances. The court will presume that modification is appropriate if the difference between an existing award and the amount determined by a new analysis and application of the current child support guidelines varies by at least 15%. Keep in mind that the court nonetheless retains its authority to deny a request to change child support if the change would be unfair.
Termination of Support
Child support generally ends when a child becomes emancipated, which in Alaska is age 18. However, parents can petition the court for an order continuing child support if the child is unmarried, still actively pursuing a high school diploma or an equivalent level of vocational training, and living as a dependent with a parent or guardian. This order may provide for the support to be paid directly to the child if the court considers it appropriate.
Seek an Attorney for Your Child Support Case Today
Child support is an important part of the post-divorce proceedings. If you have questions about calculating child support or how to modify an existing order, consult an experienced family lawyer for guidance. There are many factors that will be considered by the court, so it is best to have an attorney by your side.
Speak with one of our attorneys at Denali Law Group for legal support today.