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Delaware Child Support Guidelines

Federal law requires all states to have guidelines for establishing and modifying child support obligations. The Delaware child support guidelines are referred to as the "Delaware Child Support Formula." This formula provides a rebuttable presumption for calculating child support obligations within Delaware. A rebuttable presumption is a statement taken to be true unless it is proven to be otherwise. It is a statement made by a court.


How Basic Child Support Obligations Are Calculated

Using guidelines that are found in Delaware Code Section 513, courts determine aspects of child support arrangements. You may use the Delaware Child Support Formula Calculator to determine amounts you or your child's other parent may have to pay.

The formula calculator linked immediately above is meant to account for the following:

  • Each parent is entitled to keep a minimum amount of income for their basic needs,
  • Each child's basic needs are taken care of before the parents may retain any additional income, and
  • If income is available after the parents' and children's primary needs are met, then the children are entitled to share in any of the parents' additional income.

In Delaware, child support is calculated based primarily on a parent's net available income. A parent's net available income is determined by taking the parent's monthly gross income and subtracting taxes, other allowable deductions, and a self-support allowance.

What Qualifies as Income or Income-Related?

The following qualify as income or income-related for purposes of determining child support arrangements:

  • Monthly gross income: A combination of the parent's wages, such as salaries, commissions, bonuses, and other income. Other sources of income include those that are earned as an independent contractor, all unearned taxable income, and other income that isn't subject to income tax. Examples of unearned taxable income are dividends, severance pay, pensions, and workers' compensation.
  • Taxes: Both parent's federal and state taxes are taken into account.
  • Other allowable deductions: Medical insurance, pensions, union dues, disability insurance, any court-ordered alimony payments to the other parent, and other allowable business expenses qualify as other allowable deductions.
  • Self support allowance: The minimum amount of income necessary for a parent to remain productive in a workplace qualifies as a parent's self-support allowance. Each parent is given a self-support allowance of $1,110.

Income Attribution

Delaware is unique in that it takes a step-parent's income into account when determining child support arrangements. It will also take into account the income of a parent's partner, if the parent is not married but lives with a partner.

Delaware takes into account a step-parent's or such partner's income under Delaware Rule 500. This law addresses a parent's duty to support minor children and, in certain children over the age of 18. However, under Delaware Code Section 517, obligations to pay child support can end when minor children have reached the age of 18, if the minor children have earned their high school diploma. Otherwise, if they have not done so by that age, obligations to pay child support will end at the age of 19. It will end at this age regardless of whether a high school diploma has been earned.

What if a parent is unemployed or underemployed?

If a parent is unemployed, underemployed, or fails to provide adequate documentation of their wages, the court may attribute income to them. To figure out how much income will be attributed to the parent, the court examines earnings history, employment qualifications, and the current job market.

Child Support Enforcement in Delaware

The Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) provides information and assistance regarding applying for child support and enforcement measurers in Delaware. The DCSE has authority to enforce child support payments in a variety of ways including:

  • Income withholding orders
  • License suspension
  • Lottery intercept
  • Passport Denial
  • Tax refund intercept

For more general information about enforcement of child support, consider reviewing FindLaw's "Child Support Enforcement Options."

Additional Resources

For more information, consider reviewing the following resources, as well:

Need More Help? Contact an Attorney Today

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Delaware's child support guidelines, it may be helpful to contact a local family law attorney. They can assist you with all your concerns around child support arrangements.

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