Calculate Child Support Payments in Louisiana  

Learn how to calculate child support in Louisiana, when the amount of support may be different than the standard calculation, and how to apply for, collect, and modify child support.

By , J.D. · University of Missouri School of Law

How to Use the Louisiana Child Support Calculator

To calculate the amount of support under Louisiana's current child support guidelines, you can use the official Louisiana Child Support Estimator, which allows you to complete a child support worksheet. This worksheet will be one of the forms that you'll submit to the court along with your divorce papers and request for child support (more on that below).

You'll use the main worksheet when one parent will have physical custody of the child most of the time. There's a separate worksheet for shared custody—when each parent will have custody of the child for an approximately equal amount of time.

This means that before you do the calculations, you'll need to know what your custody arrangements will be. If you're still negotiating that issue, you might try calculations under different scenarios.

You'll also need to have some financial information on hand before filling in the worksheet, including both parents' income and certain child-related expenses, including your costs for the child's health insurance coverage, unreimbursed medical expenses (over $250 per year per child), work-related child care, educational expenses for the child's special needs, and extraordinary expenses for transporting the child between the parents.

Are Other Child Support Calculators Accurate?

Watch out for other websites with so-called child support calculators for Louisiana. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that these calculators are accurate and up-to-date. Louisiana updates its child support guidelines regularly, and you usually can't tell whether any of these other websites have kept up with the latest changes.

It's best to stick with the official state calculator to get the most accurate estimate of the amount of child support you may pay or receive. But notice that word "estimate." The judge may order a different amount in your case (more on that below). Of course, the accuracy of the child support calculation will also depend on the accuracy of the information you provide.

When Child Support May Be Different Than the Guideline Calculation

Louisiana presumes that the amount calculated under the guidelines is appropriate, but you may argue that a different amount would be better in your situation. Whether you and the child's other parent have agreed on a support amount that departs from the guideline or a judge decides for you, the judge will have to find that using the amount calculated under the guidelines would be unfair or not in the child's best interests. (La. Rev. Stat. § 9:315.1 (2024).)

Learn more about how child support works in Louisiana, including factors judges may consider when deviating from the guidelines and what gets counted as income when calculating support.

How to Apply for Child Support in Louisiana

Typically, you'll apply for child support as part of the process of filing for divorce in Louisiana. You'll need to include your completed child support worksheet along with the other divorce papers.

If you aren't married to your child's other parent, you may get help with requesting support by applying for child support services from the Child Support Enforcement program in the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). If needed, the DCFS may also help with establishing the child's legal paternity and locating absent parents.

How to Collect Child Support in Louisiana

The Centralized Collection Unit (CCU) in the Louisiana DCFS will collect and process all court-ordered child support payments.

If you're having trouble collecting support payments, the DCFS can help enforce court-ordered child support. Depending on how much the other parent owes, the agency has several ways of enforcing child support, including withholding support from paychecks, reporting the debt to credit bureaus, intercepting income tax refunds, intercepting workers' compensation or unemployment benefits, seizing money from bank accounts, placing liens on property (so the delinquent parent can't sell it or borrow money before paying off the debt), and suspending the parent's driver's or other licenses.

How to Change the Amount of Child Support

Either parent may request a modification in the amount of child support in Louisiana. Generally, you'll need to demonstrate that there has been a substantial, continuing change in circumstances that affects the appropriate amount of support, such as a parent's involuntary job loss.

The law presumes that you've met the changed-circumstances requirement when the support calculation based on your current circumstances is at least 25% different than the existing amount (as long as that amount was based on the standard guideline calculation). Even with a 25% difference, however, a judge may decide not to modify the existing order if it wouldn't be in the child's best interests or would be unfair to either parent.

Also, if it's been at least three years since the existing order was issued or last modified, a judge may modify the amount if there's any difference (even less than 25%) between the existing amount and a guideline calculation under the parents' current circumstance.

(La. Rev. Stat. § 9:311 (2024).)

You may request a review of your current child support order from the Louisiana DCFS. You also have the option of filing a modification request directly with the court. But without DCFS assistance, you should consider speaking with a family lawyer.

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