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Do I have to pay child support?

Do I have to pay child support? Will I receive child support? The answer, as with most questions in family law, is "it depends."

There are lots of parents who equally divide their parenting time so that the children spend as much time with the mother as they do with the father. In these cases, the Court often orders that neither parent should pay child support to the other. However, even if two parents have equal parenting time, one may pay support to the other if he or she has a higher income. A goal of support is to ensure that children enjoy similar standards of living in each household. As one marital master puts it, the children should not be eating 85% lean hamburg in one house and filet mignon in the other.

In a large number of cases, one parent has primary residential responsibility (often described as "primary custody") and the other parent has a schedule of parenting time (or "visitation") with the children. The parent with primary residential responsibility is entitled to receive child support from the other parent. The amount of support is calculated in accordance with the New Hampshire Child Support Guidelines, which take into consideration the incomes of both parents, contributions to health insurance and day care costs for the children, and other factors. It is possible to request that the Court "deviate" from the Guidelines when ordering child support. If you feel that special circumstances would justify a higher or lower amount of child support than the Guidelines would require, consult with an attorney to discuss the factors that you want the Court to consider.

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