Lee’s Note: I’ve left this page in place merely for historical significance (and so I won’t have dead links on my site). The actual changes in Alabama child support occurred in 2008, effective January 1, 2009, and you can read all about them here.
Alabama is considering changes to its child support guidelines. The changes had been scheduled to take effect January 1, 2007, but the changes are on hold now because the Alabama Supreme Court has rejected them. If the new guidelines take effect, they would change the way child support is calculated in Alabama:
- They would address a broader range of incomes. The existing guidelines address incomes of $6,000 to $120,000 per year. The new guidelines do not address guidelines below $10,800, but they extend to incomes of $240,000 per year.
- The new guidelines increase the guideline child support figure for one child for nearly all incomes, but they decrease it sharply at higher incomes for multiple children.
Here’s a graph for quick reference. The vertical axis is the difference in the amount of monthly child support. The horizontal axis is the annual gross income of both parents. The colored lines show the basic monthly child support obligation (without regard to health insurance or child care cost) for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 children respectively.
As you can see, it shows that child support for one child increases at all income levels except those below $13,000 and those between $77,000 and $89,000. The most dramatic change appears at the higher levels of income for three or more children, where the change (decrease) is in the range of $300-$440 per month. That’s a little misleading, however, because the raw amounts are higher at this range as well.
Another way of looking at it, perhaps more accurate in the way it affects the lives of moms and dads, is to look at the percentage change.
This second graph shows the big losers among custodial parents would be the ones at lower incomes and those with multiple children at levels of income between $85,000 and $125,000. The big winners among custodial parents would be parents of one child, particularly when the income of both parents falls in the range of $16-75,000. And of course, for non-custodial parents the winners and losers would be reversed.
I would say that another group of winners would be all parents where the total income falls in the range from $120,000 to $240,000, because under the new guidelines those parents would have more certainty about child support and one less thing to pay their lawyers to fight about.