The 4 Cs of Child Support

An overview on how court's calculate and enforce child support orders.

The 4 “C’s” of Child Support: Calculating, Compliance, Contempt and Consultation


In both dissolution of marriage and parentage matters, the court has authority to set child support on behalf of minor children involved. Previously, child support was based on a set percentage of the paying parent’s income. For example, where the parties have one child, 20% of the payor’s net income would be allocated to child support. Since 2017, however, child support is now based on state-provided minimum support guidelines, both parties’ incomes, as well as their parenting time schedule. Specifically, the number of overnights each parent has may affect how much child support will be awarded. Additional considerations are given to factors such as prior support orders in separate cases and health care coverage.


The simplest way for a party to remain compliant with a support order is to maintain an accounting of payments made to the recipient parent. Sometimes that’s easier said than done in a case where a party is paying child support directly to the other parent. In most cases, the court will order those payments be made through withholding orders, which are submitted to a paying parent’s employer, and the employer then automatically withholds the payments and sends them to the State Disbursement Unit (“SDU”). If, or when, future proceedings are brought before the court alleging non-compliance with a support order, the court can require the parties provide, or the SDU to provide, an audit report of the account in question to determine if the appropriate payments have been made.


In situations where the appropriate payments have not been made, proceedings can be brought before the court seeking to find the non-compliant party in contempt of court for failing to obey the support order. While the court will take the allegations in a verified petition as true, a contempt finding is not an automatic outcome. The burden shifts to the alleged contemnor to assert why his or her non-compliance is justified, if they can do so. If the court finds the non-compliance to be without justification, it will make a finding of contempt and impose sanctions, which, in addition to making the contemnor pay the overdue child support, can include an award of attorneys’ fees for any fees incurred in the contempt proceedings.


If you are experiencing an issue with a non-paying parent and believe legal proceedings are necessary, please call (708) 299-5827, or email, to schedule a consultation.

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