According the Child Support Guidelines, the income of the payor and which parent has custody of the child are the largest determinants of the amount of child support.
First, child support is determined by the amount of total gross income of the payor parent. Gross income is calculated based on the payor parents total income before tax, rather than after tax. The parent who has custody of the child(ren) is referred to as the recipient parent.
After determining the amount of income of the payor parent, a standardized table called the Federal Child Support Guidelines is used to calculate the amount of support to be paid. These guidelines are based on two factors: the payor parents total gross income, and the number of children requiring support.
In situations where there is shared custody between two parents, the amount of support to be paid is more fluid. Generally, a “set off” approach is used. This means that child support can be estimated by determining the amount that each parent would pay under the Guidelines, and then subtracting the smaller amount from the larger amount.