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Calculating child support can be a difficult equation

Thumbnail image for 27415410_S.jpgIt has been said that one of the only constants in life is change. As time goes on, we all experience change, both positive and negative. And because change is inevitable, many aspects of family law are designed to allow for those changes.

Child support is a good example. The needs of children will necessarily change as they get older, and the costs associated with raising those children will likely increase. Moreover, there are likely to be changes in parents' jobs, income levels and even housing. For all these reasons and more, child support awards can be adjusted if one or both parents can demonstrate a compelling need to do so.

When it comes to real-life examples of child support modification, male professional athletes often come to mind. This is because many pro athletes tend to father children outside of marriage and because the income of any given athlete can change dramatically throughout his career.

Consider the case of retired NBA star Horace Grant. Between 1987 and 2004, Grant won four NBA titles. In the mid 1990s, he was earning a salary of $14.3 million. One of his children, a daughter, was born in 1996, and the child support agreement was based on his very large salary at the time.

There were no problems with the arrangement or payments until 2009, when Grant began reducing his payments. Because his income had changed drastically from when the agreement was first written, a court granted his petition to lower his monthly payment obligations.

The girl's mother appealed the court ruling. An appellate court recently held that the original decision to approve a reduction in payments was based only on Grant's reduced income. According to news sources, it did not account for how a reduction in child support might adversely affect Grant's daughter. It also failed to account for the fact that Grant still had a significant amount of money in savings and other sources of non-salary income. The case will now go back to court in order to determine if changes are warranted.

This case demonstrates an important point about child support: It is a complex calculation. While parental income is certainly a significant factor in calculating child support, it is just one of many factors that must be considered.

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