Child Support

Child Support

Every parent is responsible for supporting any children at least until they reach the age of 18.  If your children do not live in your home most of the time after a divorce, you will likely have to pay child support.

A court can issue a child support order in a divorce or custody case.  A state agency called the Child Support Services Division (CSSD) can also issue child support orders.  If no court case is open, CSSD can issue a child support order when one parent requests child support after the parents split up.  CSSD can also issue a child support order when the parent with the child goes on Public Assistance.  A court rule called Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure 90.3 has a formula to calculate the monthly amount of support that a parent must pay.  Rule 90.3 also gives some reasons for exceptions to the child support formula.

The Rule 90.3 support calculation takes into account a parent’s adjusted annual income, the number of children, and the percentage of time that parent has with the child or children.  Adjusted annual income is a parent’s total income minus all the mandatory paycheck deductions, including federal, state, and local income taxes, social security, Medicare tax, union dues, and mandatory retirement

contributions.  The rule allows other deductions, such as child care expenses or child support paid for children from other previous relationships.

When one parent primarily has custody of the children, the basic formula calculates child support based on a percentage of the adjusted income of the other parent.  For 1 child, the parent who does not share custody would pay 20% of his or her adjusted income.  For example, if the parent’s adjusted income is $1,200.00 per month, that parent would pay $240 per month for child support.  For two children, the required child support would be 27% of the adjusted income; and for three children, 33%.  For each child after three, the child support obligation is an additional 3% of the parent’s adjusted annual income.

The Rule 90.3 calculation also depends on the amount of time a parent has custody of the children. When the parents share physical custody of their children, the support computation considers both parents’ incomes and the amount of time the children spend with each parent.  Shared physical custody often means the children spend 50% of the time with each parent. But shared custody can also mean the child’s time is split up to 70% with one parent and 30% with the other.  If the child spends more than 70% of the time with one parent, the other parent pays child support as calculated in the paragraph above.

In Alaska, the mandatory minimum for a person who doesn’t share custody is $600.00 per year or $50.00 per month.  This means that a parent who is unemployed or in jail still has to pay at least $50 a month.  For parents with shared custody, the support amount is based on how much each makes and how much time each has the children in their care.  Sometimes this amount may be less than $50 a month.

Yes.  Parents are responsible for paying for health insurance if it is available at a reasonable cost.  Parents also have to pay any expenses not covered by insurance or Denali KidCare or Medicaid.  Usually each parent is responsible for fifty percent of a child’s medical expenses, but the court can order one parent to pay more of the uninsured health costs.  This generally happens if there is a big difference in the parents’ earnings.

Child support can be modified until the child turns eighteen, dies, or is emancipated.  But any change in child support only applies to the future.  Generally the court or CSSD cannot change the amount of back child support.  To change the child support amount, you will have to show a change in circumstances.  This can be a change in the custody and visitation arrangement where one parent will have the children more of the time or a parent moves to a different community or goes to jail.  Child support can also be modified if the paying parent’s income changes enough that the child support calculation changes by at least 15%.

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