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