Know the Law: Basics of Child Support

Photo of Jacqueline Leary
Jacqueline A. Leary
Associate, Litigation Department
Published: Union Leader
March 19, 2024

Question: I am in the process of getting divorced.  I have two children. I am with my children less than half of the time. I have a six-figure salary. Will I have to pay child support based on the full guidelines?

Answer: Similar to other lawyer’s answers, it depends. Child support policy in New Hampshire is based on the principle that both parents should share responsibility for the economic support of their children. Typically, the higher income earning parent will pay child support.

In New Hampshire the presumption is that the amount of child support calculated under the guidelines is accurate.  However, this presumption is rebuttable.  This means that a parent can overcome it with evidence that the guideline amount would be unfair or inappropriate because of special circumstances. The Court will consider an upward or downward deviation of the child support guidelines in the light of the best interests of the children.

Your presumptive child support obligation is determined using the obligor (parent paying child support) and obligee (parent receiving child support), total net incomes, and the appropriate percentage found on the child support guideline table that corresponds to the number of children involved.  It is important to note, allowable childcare expenses and medical support obligation expenses as well as other tax implications may be deducted from the adjusted gross income of the parent.

Pursuant to the Child Support Statute, RSA 458-C:5, New Hampshire Courts have considered the following special circumstances when deviating from the child support guidelines:

  • Ongoing extraordinary medical, dental or education expenses, including expenses related to the special needs of a child, incurred on behalf of the involved children.
  • Significantly high or low income of the obligee or obligor.
  • The economic consequences of the presence of stepparents, step-children or natural or adopted children.
  • Reasonable expenses incurred by the obligor parent in exercising parental rights and responsibilities, provided that the reasonable expenses incurred by the obligee parent for the minor children can be met regardless of such adjustment.
  • The economic consequences to either party of the disposition of a marital home made for the benefit of the child.
  • The opportunity to optimize both parties’ after-tax income by taking into account federal tax consequences of an order of support, including the right to claim the child or children as dependents for income tax purposes.
  • State tax obligations.
  • Parenting schedule.
  • The economic consequences to either party of providing for the voluntary or court-ordered postsecondary educational expenses of a natural or adopted child.
  • Other special circumstances found by the court to avoid an unreasonably low or confiscatory support order, taking all relevant circumstances into consideration.

In order to deviate from the child support guidelines the Court must make specific written findings based on the foregoing circumstances.  The Court can only do this if you demonstrate the special circumstances by a preponderance of the evidence.  Conducting full financial discovery and exchanging all financial disclosures is necessary to overcome the child support presumption.  Contacting a lawyer to assist with this process may save you a significant amount of monthly child support.

Know the Law is a bi-weekly column sponsored by McLane Middleton.  Questions and ideas for future columns should be emailed to  Know the Law provides general legal information, not legal advice.  We recommend that you consult a lawyer for guidance specific to your particular situation.