There are a number of things at stake in a divorce. Not only might the family unit be disrupted to a significant degree, but a plethora of decisions have to be made. By far, the biggest decision and obstacle facing many a divorcing couple is not only who will have custody of the children, but who will pay child support. Child support can become a topic of contention especially in divorces where the parties are not on the best terms. Although individuals can sometimes figure out and work out support payments on their own, in instances where the situation is not amicable, court involvement is almost always inevitable.
Each state is permitted to handle child support in the way that they see fit. For instance, California as well as many other states have a child support formula that they utilize to determine the amount of support that should be paid to the custodial party. Prior to getting to where a payment determination is made, either the parties to the divorce or the court makes a custody decision. This will have a bearing on who receives child support, who pays child support and how much. Where the court is involved in the divorce proceedings, the court is the final arbiter of the matter.
The best interest of the child standard is the standard that courts are bound by in child support cases and child custody cases. This standard takes into account and puts at the forefront the child's needs, financially, physically and psychologically. In doing this, the court takes into consideration the child's upbringing to date and all other relevant factors that go into making such a decision. With respect to the actual payments that are made, the court uses a mathematical formula to arrive at the amount.
Additionally, it is important to note that even when a court mandates a payment amount regarding child support, this amount is not set in stone and can be adjusted if financial circumstances dictate.