The quality of your child support calculation is directly tied to how accurate the information you input is. The better your information, the better the calculation. The worse your information, the worse your calculation. The best way to get a good result on your calculation is to do your homework beforehand. Of course, sometimes you’re just looking for a quick answer to give yourself a ballpark idea. If that’s the case, estimates can be used. But if you’re preparing a child support calculation to submit to a Court or Child Support Enforcement Division, it’s important that you use current and correct data.
With that in mind, here are some things you should collect before starting your calculation:
A Child Support Guidelines Financial Affidavit: both parents should complete and sign this form with the most accurate information available. Not only will it help your child support calculation, it’s required by the law if you’re involved in a court case.
Tax Returns, W-2 and 1099 forms for the last two years for both parents: These will provide precise answers to many of the questions that the child support calculator asks.
Current Pay Stubs: for both parents.
Child Care Expenses: this applies both to children in the calculation and other children living in the house. The calculator will consider each separately, so you’ll need to know how they break down.
Children’s Health Insurance Premiums: Again, this applies both to children in the calculation, and other children if one of the parents is ordered to pay premiums for the other children.
Mandatory Retirement Contributions: be sure to note the difference between mandatory and non-mandatory retirement contributions. If you’re not sure, it’s best to ask.
Alimony Ordered by Court or Administrative Order: in Montana we refer to Alimony as Maintenance – both are the same for these purposes.
Child Support Ordered by Court or Adminstrative Order for other Children: If you are paying child support for a child not covered by the calculation you are performing, that amount is included in the calculation. But, it only counts if there’s a Court or Administrative order requiring you to pay the child support. If you’re doing it out of the goodness of your heart, it doesn’t count.
Required Employment Expenses: These are expenses that you have no choice but to incur because of your job. For many people, the line here is difficult to draw. As a general rule, if your employer didn’t specifically tell you to buy something – it doesn’t count.