Child support payments is a thorny subject for parents who have gone through a messy break up and a fight for child custody.This article looks at how child support is actually calculated and other common child support questions. Child support arises when the non custodial parent,that is the parent who does not win child custody, is obliged to make payments called child support or child maintenance to the parent who has custody, either physical or legal custody, of the child. The law views the custodial parent as doing his/her bit by looking after the child on a daily basis so the obligation to make child support payments falls on the non custodial parent. In calculating the amount of child maintenance to be made the court in your state will be guided by the Child Support Enforcement Act which is federal law and gives guidelines to the state courts as to how to calculate. Some states exercise a great deal of latitude as to how to calculate the support payments within these guidelines and some states stick rigidly to the guidelines laid down by the legislation. Courts will look at a number of factors though in guiding their decision and they are 1. The needs of the child 2. The needs and means of the parent who has custody 3. The ability to pay of the non custodial parent 4. The standard of living that the child was accustomed to prior to the break up. Judges are not fools and they do recognize the reality for many parents of the difficulty of trying to maintain 2 homes post break up but they take their responsibilities seriously and will make orders for child support payments which reflect the four criteria laid out above. As a non custodial parent you will be allowed the ordinary day to day living costs of food and shelter when you are handing in your statement of means but you will not be allowed to deduct expenses such as entertainment, eating out etc.Your lifestyle choices will also be a significant factor and the court will generally look at what you are capable of earning and not necessarily what you are actually earning. This means that if you make a lifestyle choice to, for example, go to law school and consequently your earnings drop significantly the court will not allow you to rely on your actual income figures but rather it will take the view that the maintenance of your child is more important and will calculate your child support payments based on what you are capable of earning. Check out how does the court determine custody and determining child custody at http://ChildJointCustody.com ,an informational site all about child custody and get your FREE child Custody book.