Alaska employs the percentage of income approach. This approach is based on economic analyses which show the proportion of income parents devote to their children in intact families is relatively constant across income levels up to a certain upper limit. Applications of the rule should result in a non-custodial parent paying approximately what the parent would have spent on the children if the family was intact.
Integral to the rule is the expectation that the custodial parent will contribute at least the same percentage of income to support the children. The rule operates on the principle that as the income available to both parents increases, the amount available to support the children also will increase. Thus, at least in the sole or primary custodial situation, the contribution of one parent does not affect the obligation of the other parent.
The first step in determination of child support is calculating a "parent's total income from all sources." This phrase should be interpreted broadly to include benefits which would have been available for support if the family had remained intact. A very limited number of expenses may be deducted from income. Mandatory deductions such as taxes and mandatory union dues are allowable. In addition:
1. Mandatory retirement contributions are a deduction. Voluntary contributions, up to the limit stated in the rule, are also a deduction if the earnings on the retirement account or plan are tax-free or tax-deferred. If a parent is not a participant in a mandatory plan, the limit on voluntary contributions is 7.5 % of gross wages and self-employment income. If a parent is a participant in a mandatory plan, the limit on voluntary contributions is 7.5 % of gross wages and self-employment income minus the amount of the mandatory contribution.
2. Child support and alimony payments paid to another person arising out of different cases are deductible if three conditions are met. First, the child support or alimony actually must be paid. Second, it must be required by a court or administrative order.
3. A deduction also is allowed for the support of the children of prior relationships even if the party is the custodial parent of the "prior" children and does not make child support payments to the other parent of the children. In this situation support provided directly to the children is calculated as if the children from the prior relationship were the only children.
4. Also, reasonable child care expenses that are necessary to enable a parent to work, or to be enrolled in an educational program which will improve employment opportunities, are deductible. However, the expense must be for the children who are the subject of the support order.
Once the non-custodial parent's adjusted income is calculated, it must be multiplied by the following percentages to determine child support: 20% for one child; 27% for two children; 33% for three children; and an extra 3% for each additional child.
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