Each parent has an obligation to support his/her minor child. The parties may not by agreement divest the court of jurisdiction to order child support.
Before parents can address the issue of child support, there must be an underlying action filed in a Family Court. If the parents are married, either the mother or the father must first file an action requesting a dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or nullity. If the parents are unmarried, either the mother or the father must file an action to establish the parental relationship. Once the paternal relationship is established, child support can be requested and ordered. There is no legal obligation to pay child support from one parent to the other until there is a court order. However, because both parents are obligated to provide for his/her child it is always highly recommended that both parents provide for the child after separation. A court order is obtained by requesting a hearing.
The court uses a statewide uniform guideline for making child support awards.
The statewide guideline provides a formula for a tentative child support amount in each case. That amount depends on (1) the parents’ respective net disposable incomes, which is being calculated by placing gross income into a DissoMaster program; (2) the number of children for whom the support is being determined; (3) the parent’s respective periods of primary physical responsibility for children.
Under a state guideline, gross income includes income from any and all the sources, except for the income derived from (1) child support payments actually received; (2) any public assistance program for which eligibility is based on need.