Calculating Child Support Payments in Maine

Calculating Your Child Support in Maine

When couples with children separate in Maine, the matters of parenting and child support are high on the list of issues to resolve.

How much child support must be paid to whom are important questions that the Maine courts want to see settled in the best interests of the children. This financial support helps to ensure that the child’s needs are met regardless of which parent he/she is with.

Only the parent who provides the child’s primary home is entitled to child support from the other parent. This applies regardless of the respective incomes of the parents. However, the amount of support payable will take into account their gross income.

Only if incomes are fairly equal AND the parties have a shared primary residence will no child support be payable.

Fortunately, help is at hand when calculating child support in Maine. Parents have access to the state’s Child Support Guidelines, which can help make the necessary calculations. Alternatively, a child support or divorce attorney can usually help resolve child support matters.

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How to calculate parenting time in Maine

Child support calculations in Maine depend on three main factors:

  1. The calculation from the Maine Child Support Guidelines
  2. The health insurance costs for the child (if any)
  3. Daycare costs for the child (if any)

The total child support obligation is determined by combining these figures. Each parent is responsible for his/her portion of the total based on his/her percentage of the parties’ joint income.

If, for instance, each parent makes $35,000, the total joint income is $70,000. Each parent is responsible for 50 percent of the total child support obligation. However, it is presumed that the primary care provider will spend at least that much in providing a home for the children. The only obligation for support payments, therefore, lies with the non-primary care provider.

To calculate how much child support must be paid, parents can follow these three steps:

1.     Obtain the child support forms from the court

The child support forms can be obtained from the court clerk’s office or on the Maine Judicial Branch website.

These forms cover only the matter of child support. If you are also filing for a divorce, parental rights, or other family law matters, you will require additional forms.

2.     Complete the child support affidavit

Both parents first need to complete the child support affidavit form, which provides the court with an overview of income and expenses. There are separate forms for the “primary care provider” and the “non-primary care provider.”

The affidavit must be signed before a notary, an attorney or the court clerk and submitted to the court. Before submitting the affidavit, a copy should be provided to the other parent, and you should retain a copy of their affidavit.

Generally speaking, the child support forms should be exchanged and filed at least three days before the first case management conference, which is typically scheduled soon after a divorce case has been filed.

3.     Complete the child support worksheet

The third step is for the parents to complete the child support worksheet and file it with the court (just one copy is required).

From this, the child support calculation will be made, taking into account the total costs of raising the child(ren) and the respective gross incomes of each parent. Any applicable health insurance, medical and daycare costs for raising the child(ren) are also factored in.

The court magistrate may be able to use the information provided in the affidavits to complete the worksheet but it’s generally best not to rely on this.

Is Child Support Taxable in Maine?

Navigating the tax implications of child support is crucial for both payers and recipients in Maine. Here’s a breakdown:

For Recipients: Child support is not taxable income for custodial parents in Maine, aligning with federal tax laws. This ensures that the financial support received is solely directed towards the child’s well-being.

For Payers: Parents making child support payments are not eligible for tax deductions. According to the IRS, child support is neither tax-deductible nor a taxable event for the payer.

Key Distinction: Differentiating child support from other financial support types, such as alimony, is crucial. Alimony, or spousal support, may have distinct tax implications, being taxable for the recipient and deductible for the payer.

Important Notes: Child support’s non-taxable status is consistent across all states, including Maine. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services offers valuable resources on child support guidelines.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) Impact: The TCJA of 2017 brought changes to the Child Tax Credit and dependency rules, providing enhanced assistance to eligible families.

Child support in Maine is not taxable for either the payer or recipient, aligning with federal and state laws. Understanding this ensures that children receive the full financial support they need, free from additional tax burdens. For personalized advice, consulting a qualified tax professional or family law attorney is recommended.

What if my income is too low to afford child support in Maine?

There are very few instances where a parent without primary custody of the children does not have to pay child support.

The courts in Maine expect child support to be paid according to your means, but it would be counter-productive to make the support obligation excessive.

If you cannot work because you are taking care of a child under the age of two, the court will generally consider you unable to work and no child support will be ordered.

For someone in need of child support but unable to work because they are taking care of a child under the age of two, the court will usually calculate the other parent’s child support without assigning income to you.

On the Child Support Table used by the Maine courts, there is a “shaded area” that applies to people of low income. Depending on the number of children you have, if the combined annual gross income of both parents falls below the range of $20,400-$39,600 (depending on the number of children), the parent that is required pay child support will pay less basic support.

If your annual income is below $16,800 (the lowest figure on the chart as of 2024), the basic support obligation is capped at 10 percent of total income, but the courts have the power to increase this if your potential earnings are deemed to be higher.

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Child support formula used to calculate total in Maine

For an estimate of the total child support payable in Maine, it is easiest to use a child support calculator. You will need to enter data such as the number of children in your family, the percentage of time you spend with the children, your monthly pay, and the other parent’s monthly pay.

All child support calculations are based on the “Maine Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations” by default. This is a table used by the court to arrive at a suitable child support figure.

However, the courts may not always make a fair calculation if they do not have all of the important details. If there are factors that you feel the court should consider in addition to those included in the table, you will need to explain them to the court.

Modifying child support in Maine

Sometimes, it is necessary to modify a child support order due to a change in circumstances for either the parents or the child.

A reduced earning capacity due to an injury or redundancy is a good example where a child support order may require review. Another modification may be required if the child develops a serious chronic illness that requires regular medical care.

There are two main ways to modify a child support order in Maine:

  • Apply to the courts (usually requiring the assistance of a child support lawyer)
  • Apply to the Division of Support Enforcement & Recovery (DSER), which is responsible for enforcing and reviewing child support orders in Maine

The latter method requires a request for an order review from the Case Review Unit at the DSER. Updated financial/expense information will be requested from each parent and a decision made based on the new information.

Importantly, the paying parent cannot simply stop making payments if circumstances change. The old child support order applies until it is reviewed, and a new order is made. Also, bear in mind that support orders less than three years old cannot be modified in Maine unless there is a significant change in the amount of child support (15 percent or greater).

For assistance with any legal matter involving child support, contact an experienced child support attorney at The Maine Divorce Group.

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Call 207-230-6884 or contact us online to schedule a consult with one of our highly skilled family law attorneys today.

We serve many clients, just like you, across Maine in Cumberland, York, Sagadahoc, & Lincoln Counties.


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Divorce is a highly emotional and stressful experience for most people. But you don’t have to face this challenge alone. Having a strong divorce attorney in your corner can help ensure that you and your children walk away from this process with the best opportunities available for future success and happiness.