How much can I expect child support to be?
The answer depends first on the custody schedule, and then on income. If one parent has primary physical custody (meaning the children live with that parent 70% or more of the overnights each year), then the other parent will pay child support. This is true no matter how much the primary custodial parent earns. But if the parents share custody (meaning the children live with each parent more than 30% of the overnights), then the parent who earns more will generally pay child support.
Child support is calculated by looking at the parent’s income from all sources (including your PFD), then subtracting certain allowable deductions, like federal income taxes, Social Security and Medicare contributions, some payments into retirement plans, etc., and then multiplying a percentage of the net number based on the number of minor children.
The State of Alaska provides a helpful calculator to run a rough calculation:
If one or both of the parents provide health insurance for the children, there is a credit available to the parent providing the insurance for one-half the cost of the children’s share of the out-of-pocket insurance premium.
Generally the child support calculation is fairly simple and mechanical, but sometimes it is not, such as in the case of seasonal income, self-employment, or if one of the parents is not employed to their full ability.
If you have further questions about child support, please feel free to call me for a free telephone consultation.
The short answer is they don’t!
This is because, unfortunately, minors have very few legal rights and deciding one’s own custody is never one of them; only the judge gets to decide custody. However, a child’s meaningful preference is one of nine “best interest” factors which the judge can consider in deciding physical custody.
When is a child old enough for their preference to be considered meaningful? Again, there is no specific age at which a “preference” is considered to be “meaningful”; it depends on the child’s level of maturity at the time the preference is expressed. A 14 year old’s preference to live with Mom because she “has no rules” is unlikely to be considered at all, while a 12 year old’s mature, reasoned preference will likely be given weight.
As one judge put it: “A relatively mature teenager’s reasoned preference is not so lightly disregarded.” Be careful, however, because a teenager’s preference is not reliable if it is “manipulated or unduly influenced by a parent.”
Doug Perkins, at Hartig Rhodes LLC, has an active family law practice, including prenuptial agreements and adoptions, and cases involving divorce, property, child custody and support, and domestic violence.