The Rainbow State is one of only three jurisdictions in the country which uses the complex Melson Formula to determine child support obligations. Montana and Delaware, where Judge Elwood Melson developed this formula in the 1980s, are the other two states. This formula gives Kamuela divorce lawyers the opportunity to preserve the legal and financial rights of both mothers and fathers.
Basically, the Melson Formula is a hybrid between the income percentage model and the income share model. All other states use one of these two models, with the income share model being the more prevalent one.
Both the income percentage and income share models have some flaws which the Melson Formula at least arguably corrects.
As the name implies, the income percentage model sets the child support level based largely on a percentage of the obligor’s income.
This formula is quite simple to calculate. However, the income percentage model sometimes leads to unreasonable results. In some situations, a low-income obligor pays child support to a high-income oblige.
The income share model, on the other hand, is much more intricate. While it does eliminate unreasonable results, at least in most cases, it is almost impossible to calculate.
Furthermore, many people believe parenting time should not be a factor in the income share model. Assume Juan and Maria have three children, and Maria is the residential parent. With a family that size, she needs a rather large house. But when the children visit Juan on the weekends, everyone can squeeze into his two-bedroom apartment. Since Maria’s house payment is the same every month, she might need more financial support than the income share model gives her.
In contrast to these two models, according to Hawaii law, the Melson Formula is premised on the following three items:
- The parents must keep enough of the money they earn to encourage continued employment. Otherwise, they may become discouraged over the lack of take-home pay and leave their jobs. That outcome hurts everyone, and it probably hits the children the hardest.
- The children’s standard of living is inexorably linked to the parents’ standard of living. When the parents live better, the children live better.
- At the same time, parents should not horde their money. If they have income over and above their minimum reasonable needs, they should share it with the children.
So, the Melson Formula’s focus is different. Instead of highlighting the needs of the children, it highlights the needs of the parents. The positive effect then trickles down to the children.
Melson Formula Factors
The income share and Melson formulas both begin with the net income of both parents. Net income for child support purposes may be different from net income for tax purposes. For example, voluntary payroll deductions, like additional withholding amounts and 401(k) contributions, are usually still part of net income. Aside from net income, the primary Melson factors are:
- All Financial Resources: Sometimes, a Kamuela divorce lawyer must look very carefully to find “all” financial assets and income sources. Many parents are very clever in this area. But an experienced Kamuela divorce lawyer usually knows all the tricks.
- Needs of Each Child: There is a difference between the child’s needs and the child’s wants. Also, many children have special needs, such as the need to develop a special talent though music or other lessons.
- Other Dependents: Both children and stepchildren usually count as dependents. However, in most cases, the stepchildren must be adopted stepchildren. Otherwise, the obligor does not have a legal duty to support them.
The Melson formula also includes a minimum wage presumption. Parents who are not working should be able to work at least 30 hours a week for minimum wage. This income level is subject to future modification.
Count on Assertive Attorneys
Child support calculations must be in line with a number of different factors. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Kamuela divorce lawyer, contact Olson & Sons, L.C. We have several offices in the area.