How does Delaware child support work?
Parents in Delaware are financially responsible for their children regardless if they are married or not. There is an obligation for all parents to financially support their children. Even if a relationship ends in divorce, parents must financially take care of their children.
Delaware child support is determined by a model known as the Melson Model. Experts claim the Delaware child support model is complicated and having a family lawyer to help with its ins and outs is a good idea. The Melson Model is a variation of the income shares model, which is used by most American states.
How is child support in Delaware calculated?
The income shares model estimates the amount of child support a parent would spend on a child if the parents still lived together. The amount is then divided between the mother and father based on their incomes to determine the amount of Delaware child support that is paid.
Using the Melson Model, there are adjustments made to the final amount of child support paid by the non-custodial parent. The model takes an allocation known as the “self-support allowance” into account before determining how much money a parent has available to pay in child support. There is also a “standard living adjustment” (SOLA) for the child that must be calculated into the amount paid.
SOLA is used after the parent’s needs and the child’s primary needs are met. The adjustment is meant to tailor child support amounts and mimic the standard of living a child would have if the parents hadn’t divorced or separated.
Can courts deviate from Delaware child support guidelines?
Delaware courts hold the right to deviate from the Melson Model and the guidelines set out by the state. This typically only occurs when the amount paid by a non-custodial parent is deemed unfair. Courts will take into consideration the following factors when making a decision on a deviation from child support guidelines:
- whether or not the standard Delaware child support formula is unfair or not in the best interest of the child
- the financial resources available to the child at the time
- the child’s educational needs
- the child’s physical and emotional conditions and needs
- the cost of living
- financial needs of the non-custodial parent
- debts the non-custodial parent incurred and whether they were out of his or her control
- other dependent children of the non-custodial parent
- available financial assistance from a current spouse or domestic partner for each party
Receiving child support in Delaware
Recipients of Delaware child support can sign up today to receive funds electronically by either direct deposit into an existing checking or savings account or the First State family card, a prepaid MasterCard account that is credited whenever a payment is made into your child support case.
Child support Delaware add-on payments
Payments can be added to child support installments in Delaware. If the custodial parent incurs extraordinary expenses, then the non-custodial parent can have expenses added on to the typical monthly support payment to ensure help is provided.
The non-custodial parent is the parent in which the child spends fewer overnights a year living with. It is the non-custodial parent’s obligation, in most cases, to pay child support to the custodial parent. The custodial parent is the individual in which the child lives with most of the year.
What counts as an extraordinary expense? Medical expenses can be classified as an extraordinary expense. Childcare is another expense that can be added on to monthly payments. Delaware courts may order a child to be covered by the parent’s healthcare coverage. If a non-custodial parent has healthcare insurance, the court will expect the child to be covered on the same plan. If the child is not covered, the court will expect the child to be covered via public health insurance schemes.
When does child support in Delaware end?
Delaware child support continues until one of three factors occurs. A non-custodial parent will stop paying child support in Delaware once the child reaches the age of 18. If the child is still in high school, payments will continue until the child reaches the age of 19 or graduates from high school.
Can Delaware child support payments be modified?
After two-and-a-half years of the child support amount being in place, parents can request a modification of the order. The custodial or non-custodial parent can request the court modify the payment based on a change in circumstances.
Parents can request a modification before the two-and-a-half-year time period is met. However, they must show that significant changes to financial circumstances occurred. There needs to be at least a 10% increase or decrease in payment amounts if it is fewer than two-and-a-half-years since the original order was created.
Changes can include income increases or decreases, private school tuition, the number of children supported, and health insurance coverage payments. A Delaware court will modify the child support payment if evidence is shown the payment amounts do not fit the parents’ or child’s circumstances.
Child support in Delaware
We all know that divorce is contentious in Delaware as it is everywhere, but why the long, drawn out battles over custody? These battles pit one parent against the other and put the children in the middle.
In most cases in Delaware, both parents want to see their children. And except under rare circumstances, do the children not want to see both parents. So what if the parents simply share the children? Well, you guessed it, money. If child support levels are set too low, the children may not get proper housing or food or clothing. But if child support levels are set too high, the payer may not be able to afford the payments.
And under the current child support system in Delaware, if a payer falls behind on payments, a warrant may be issued for their arrest. And if they’re arrested, their driver’s licenses are taken away and they’re put in jail where they can’t work and make money to catch up on their payments. So it’s a vicious cycle and nobody wins.