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Child support is an important aspect of any separation or divorce. Unfortunately, support negotiations are often stressful and contentious for everyone involved. There are many reasons these proceedings can turn volatile—such as hard feelings, asset disputes, and financial strain—but the main reason is a basic lack of understanding.

Most divorcing couples have no idea how the child support determination process actually works.

The following FAQ gives divorcing co-parents a better understanding of the Louisiana child support determination process and, hopefully, a bit of relief.

What is the legal basis for Louisiana child support determinations?
Louisiana law provides for computation of child support based on tables that are contained in title 9 of the revised statutes. These tables are normally used by courts, judges and hearing officers throughout the state when ruling on issues of child support. You can find these revised statutes online via the Louisiana State Legislature website. There is also a more accessible version of these statutes on the Support Guidelines website. Remember to always consult a family law attorney to ensure proper interpretation of these statutes.

Are Louisiana child support payments calculated based on net or gross income?
The estimation of Louisiana child support payments begins with each parent’s gross monthly income.

What if I am already paying child support for another child—will the court take that into account when determining new support payments?
Yes, the court factors in any amount either parent is already paying to support a child or children from a prior relationship.

Does my former spouse have to continue paying for private schooling after our divorce?
This depends on a few factors. Louisiana law does not mandate private school education costs be included in support just because a parent so wishes. However, should a child require private schooling, or if a private school is agreed upon by both parties, those expenses will also be added into the support obligation.

I pay the health insurance for my child and will likely continue to do so after our divorce. Will the court consider that extra expense when calculating payments?
The cost of health insurance for the child or children in question is definitely a factor in determining support payments. If you are responsible for your child’s health insurance be sure to present clear documentation of this to the court early on to avoid any errors of omission.

What if my child is disabled and receives monthly government support?
If your child directly receives social security (or any other such earnings) that may affect the amount of support payments. Again, be sure to present clear legal documentation of any earnings early on in the proceedings to ensure a fair determination for your child.

Does our custody agreement affect support payments?
Whether the child custody is joint or shared will definitely factor into which worksheet must be used. It is important to gather and present all financial and custodial information to the court as soon as possible. There is a dramatic difference in the dollar amounts due from the non-custodial parent under a joint custody worksheet versus a shared custody worksheet.

What financial documents do I need to submit?
If you are preparing for a divorce make sure you obtain tax returns, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, your pay stubs and your spouse’s pay stubs, and be prepared to utilize these to obtain a full and appropriate amount of child support.

Have more unanswered questions? We offer free initial consultations for all legal cases. To setup your appointment with Charles Branton, call (985) 807-1410 today.

Branton Law Firm is located at 522 N. New Hampshire Street in Downtown Covington and handles mediations and other aspects of Louisiana family law

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