As part of its many programs, the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services helps establish and enforce court orders for the financial welfare of children. The Child Support Enforcement program facilitates the process of determining child support, according to state guidelines.
Laws require non-custodial parents to contribute to the support of their children. Support determinations are made based upon the parents’ gross income and children’s needs. Additional factors are considered before a final amount is decided.
To be clear, gross income includes work-related pay, including bonuses and commissions. Income from interest, dividends, trusts, profits from investment sales, pensions and government benefits are included among other income sources. The only income considered is that of the parents, not the incomes of parents’ spouses.
Support calculations also are adjusted based on individual case circumstances, including how many children share a household, the children’s ages and the custody status between parents. In joint custody cases, parenting time plays a role in how much support a non-custodial parent owes.
Considerations are made for costs of private schooling, childcare expenses during parent job searches, child health care insurance coverage and previous support orders for a child or ex-spouse.
Support determinations also factor in any expenses required for a child, over and above regular guideline levels. For instance, a child with a serious health condition or special needs is likely to require more financial support than a child without medical problems. Family court judges have a right to alter child support provisions as necessary to accommodate the best interests of a child.
Child support orders remain in place unless and until a modification is approved by a family court judge. You can discuss the provisions included in child support decisions with an attorney. Lawyers also can help secure amended custody orders following a significant change in parental circumstances like a job loss, injury or serious medical condition.
Source: State of Louisiana, Department of Children & Family Services, “Child Support Enforcement” accessed Jan. 23, 2015