Calculating Your Child Support
We post these step-by-step instructions in case you want to see exactly how the Maine Courts calculate child support. If you want to skip these steps and just do a quick calculation, use our self-calculating form.
All calculations are based on the Court's Child Support Table (called the "Maine Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations") and related Maine rules. The court uses the amount calculated by the Table by default. If you want a different amount, you need to explain to the judge why they shouldn't use the Table.
This information tells you how to use the Child Support Guidelines and how to fill out the Child Support Worksheet and the Child Support Affidavit.
If you're getting ready for a DHHS support hearing, not a Court case, go to: Child Support and Debt Due for Past Support: How Much Do I Owe?
Step 1. Get the Court Forms
You can get the forms from any court clerk's office.
You can also get the forms from our all forms page. You can find a self-calculating version of the Child Support Affidavit there. We also offer this "HotDocs" automated Child Support Worksheet. Using these automated forms may be easier than going through all of the steps below.
The .pdf sample forms below are just samples. To be sure you are doing this right, use the forms and Guidelines you got from the court clerk or our court forms pages.
If you are bringing a:
- Divorce or Parental Rights case
- Motion to Amend a family law order
- Motion to Enforce a family law order
- there are other forms you will need to fill out, serve, and file. Go to the court clerk's office to get a forms packet, or use our online classroom Divorce and Parental Rights in Maine or How to: Change or Enforce Your Maine Divorce or Parental Rights Order and use our online forms as instructed there.
Step 2. Fill out the Child Support Affidavit
First you need to fill out the Child Support Affidavit. Both you and the other parent need to fill out your own form. If the other party won't do this, you may need to tell the court what you think their income is. You can base this on things you know, or the kind of work they do.
The Affidavit is meant to give the Court a clear picture of your income and expenses. If you have earnings, attach your most recent W-2 form and pay stub. When you finish the Affidavit, sign it in front of a notary, an attorney, or the court clerk.
Give a copy to the other parent, and get of copy of theirs for yourself. The original Affidavit goes to the court. You should exchange and file them at least 3 days before the first case management conference.
Here are sample completed forms:
Child Support Affidavit for Primary Care Provider
Child Support Affidavit for Non-Primary Care Provider
The sample form has been filled out for this pretend family:
- There are three children who live with their mother during the week
- The mother's total gross income for this year is $10,000
- She pays $100 per week in childcare for two of the children
- One child has diabetes, which costs $50 per week in medical supplies that are not covered by insurance
- The mother pays $10 a week in health insurance premiums for herself
- The father's total gross income for this year is $25,000
- He pays $3,000 a year in child support for children from an earlier relationship
- The father also pays weekly health insurance premiums of $30, of which $20 is for the children
All of this information is included in the sample forms.
Step 3. Fill out the Child Support Worksheet
Only one Worksheet needs to be completed and filed with the court. Or the Court Magistrate will fill one out for you, using the information from your Affidavits. Go here to see a sample Child Support Worksheet completed for the pretend family. Go here to see a highlighted section of the Child Support Table. Important amounts are highlighted in orange.
The sample Worksheet is like the one you will get from the clerk's office or online forms page. The printed form is three pages, with the Calculating "Amount from Table" instructions on the last page.
Again, you can opt to use our self-calculating form: Child Support Worksheet - HotDocs Interview and Automated Form.
Using the sample Worksheet:
- The pretend family's combined adjusted gross income is $32,000
- The mother's share is 31%
- The father's share is 69%
- The Child Support Guidelines show a weekly support amount of $71 for each child.
Then the Worksheet adds in:
- weekly child care
- medical expenses, and
- health insurance costs
This is how they find a total weekly support amount of $383.
This support amount is divided between the parents based on the percentage of income that they have contributed to their combined adjusted gross income.
Since the father's share is 69%, the father must pay a weekly amount of $244.00 ($383 x .69, minus the $20 he pays per week for health insurance premiums for the children and rounded to the nearest dollar).
It is assumed that the mother provides her share ($118.73) because she cares for the children most of the time. She also pays the child care expenses and extraordinary medical expenses directly. The father will pay her back her for 69% of those expenses.
What if my income is very low and I can't afford to pay?
If you are not working because you are taking care of a child under the age of 2, the court will generally consider you to not be able to work. It will not make you pay child support.
If you need to get child support and are not working because you are taking care of a child under the age of 2, the court will generally also consider you to not be able to work. It will calculate the other parent's child support without assigning income to you.
If your children live most of the time with the other parent and your income is very low, look at the Table to see if your income falls within the shaded area at the low end of the chart. If your income is in this lowest range, then find your support amount on the Table using only your annual gross income (not both parents' combined income).
Your annual income (after deducting any amounts at line 4a and 4b) is $12,600. You have two children. You are not the "primary care provider." Your basic support obligation would be $30 per week (2 x $15). You will still add to this amount your portion of child care and medical expenses. The numbers highlighted in yellow on this table show the basic support amount.
NOTE: "Shaded area" calculations can be tricky. In some cases, depending on the other parent's income, using the standard "proportional share" formula will result in lower amount of child support. The court uses the lower amount in those cases.
Very low income cases: If your annual gross income is below $12,600 (the lowest figure on the chart), then your support obligation is capped at 10% of your income. Sometimes courts increase this, based on what they think your potential earnings could be.
What if I think the Child Support Guidelines don't work for my case?
The Criteria For Deviating From Support Guidelines lists factors that the Court can consider to order a different amount. If you want the Court to order a different amount of child support than the amount on your worksheet, tell the Judge or Magistrate how much you think the support amount should be. Be ready to explain why your situation fits one of the reasons listed in the Criteria.
Where both parents provide "substantially equal care," the child support calculation will be different. It is more complicated. If you can't afford a lawyer, you will probably need help from the Magistrate or a Courthouse Assistance Project to calculate the basic weekly child support amount.
If either party gets TANF benefits, you should avoid a "substantially equal care" arrangement. If this is ordered, you will most likely lose your TANF benefits.
We do post a self-calculating form for "substantially equal care" cases. But we advise people on TANF to beware of what this might mean for your benefits.)
If you have more questions
Courthouse Assistance Projects offer help in many Maine District Courts. Trained volunteers go to these courts on a weekly or monthly basis to answer questions or help you fill out the forms.
If you still have questions about the child support calculations when you go to your first court conference, ask the Magistrate for help.
Updated August 2017
PTLA # 326