Child support is mandated by law and is calculated based upon a percentage of income. If both parties are employees earning income that is reported on a W-2 form at year's end, the calculation is a simple mathematical computation. Beyond that amount, the court has discretion to apply the percentages to a higher or lesser amount. While these calculations seem simple, they become very difficult when one party is self-employed or in a cash-based business. In such a situation, the court will try to determine a party's true income in order to apply the percentages. The court is not bound by a tax return and may impute income to a party in appropriate circumstances.
Either party has the right to file a petition to modify the amount of child support if a substantial change in circumstances occurs. These circumstances could involve a loss of income for the paying parent or an increase in the needs of the child being supported.
When a parent does not pay court-ordered child support, the recipient parent can file a violation petition in family court. A judge holds a hearing to determine whether enforcement actions are warranted, including: