What is Child Support?
In every state, there are certain rules and guidelines that must be followed by all parents. Each parent of a child is responsible for not only taking care of their children, but also providing for them financially to ensure their food, shelter, medical bills, and schooling expenses are all paid for. Of course certain things arise where this isn’t always possible, but it most cases, two parties who do have a child, are equally responsible for them.
Now, as you know, things don’t always go as planned and sometimes, couples wind of divorcing or separating. When this happens and a child is in the picture, domestic issues such as custody and child support are brought up. In most states, a parent who is considered the custodial parent is entitled to receive child support from the other parent to take care of their child. A child support payment is calculated using the following information:
- Who the custodial parent is.
- How much time both the custodial and non-custodial parent spend with children.
- What are the tax ramifications of child support payments?
- Are there any deductions that can be used when calculating the child support amount?
- The net incomes of both the custodial and noncustodial parents.
However, because the system doesn’t always work to your favor, not always is an eligible parent provided with the right amount of support they should be receiving. On the same note, some parents may be paying more than necessary but aren’t sure what to do and how to go about getting their child support amount reduced.
Should I Hire a Child Custody Attorney to Represent Me?
Here is a hypothetical scenario that may help you decide whether or not it is in your favor to hire an attorney to help assist with any type of matter you may be dealing with.
Imagine going into a court room alone to represent yourself and there you see your ex-spouse sitting side by side with his/her child support attorney. You currently take care of your children more than half the time and provide for them financially. When asked by the judge to present your documentation of this, you neglect to do so simply because you weren’t aware you would be required to. Not only do you lose out on a significant amount of child support, but you are now left struggling to take care of your kids and pay all the bills.
Had you hired an attorney in your city to represent you, you would have been informed of all the pertinent documentation necessary and know what to expect ahead of time before entering the courtroom. Although this is only a scenario, it is very real and can happen.
Ready to Hire a Local Child Support Attorney in Your City?
The question you now need to ask yourself is this: Do I want to win my case? Do I need the outcome to be in my favor? If you answered yes, we encourage you to give us a call and allow an agent of ours to work to your benefit and get your paired up with a local child support lawyer today.
If you have no idea how to navigate the legal world of child support, you’re not alone. Allow the child support lawyers at USAttorneys.com to point you in the right direction by outlining important information you need to know before you take on the courtroom.
What Are My Child Support Obligations?
While each state has it’s own guidelines for child support, the judge is generally the one who decides the final amount. Before determining child support obligations for each parent, child custody needs to be addressed first.
If one parent has sole custody, it is not uncommon for the other parent to pay most of the child support. For example: The custodial parent works part-time in order to provide for their children, or is a stay-at-home mother. Child support payments in this case would likely reflect that the parent with sole custody does not have the financial means to adequately provide for the children.
However, things can get a little tricky if the parents are awarded joint custody. Two factors usually come into play when deciding child support for joint custody cases:
- Joint Income: How much money each respective parent contributed to the joint income. Specifically, the more income that one contributed, the more money they will have to contribute to child support.
- Physical Custody: The court takes into account the amount of time each parent has physical custody of the children, assuming that the parent with the most physical custody also contributes more to the costs associated with raising a child.
Currently, there is no cut and dry procedure for determining the exact amount of child support each parent will pay. It depends on factors specific to each case, making experienced child support attorneys that much more important to the outcome of your case.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
Child support payments are determined by the court. They take factors into consideration such as how much physical time each parent has with the child, and what each parents’ income is. The court identifies income as any of the following:
- Disability payments
- Retirement benefits
- Self-employment earnings
- Social security benefits
- Unemployment benefits
- Veteran’s benefits
- Workers’ compensation
Factors that the court takes into consideration when setting the amount of child support each parent will have to pay include:
- Expenses: This means any expenses associated with raising the child in a specific location. For example, if you live in a city with a relatively low cost of living, then the costs of raising a child may be lower than the costs of raising a child in a higher-cost, highly populated city. The court also looks at the costs of clothing, education, entertainment, food, health care, housing, and transportation.
- Income: The more money a parent makes, the more they will have to pay in child support. Courts generally acknowledge financial hardship, and take into consideration the fact that you need to pay for your children’s needs, as well as your own.
- Needs: If a child has special physical needs due to a disability, or special needs for either a mental disability or a learning disorder, then the court accounts for the specific needs of the child when deciding the final child support payments for each parent.
- Quality of Life: Specifically, the court looks at the quality of life the child experienced prior to the parents’ split. If the child was accustomed to a high standard of life before their parents’ separation, then child support payments may be adjusted to reflect the cost of helping the child maintain that lifestyle.
Can Child Support Payments Be Changed?
A child custody attorney can help you take legal action in order to change child support payments that have already been agreed upon. Certain circumstances may necessitate the need to adjust the amount of child support payments, such as:
- Physical Custody: You increase the total amount of time that the child is in your physical custody.
- Short-Term Financial Problems: A judge may make temporary changes to child support payments if an emergency occurs. Or, if one parent is dealing with financial issues, then the other parent may have to temporarily pay more in child support payments. If this is the case, then both parents will need to go to court with their child support attorneys in order to have the amount legally changed, even if both parties agree on the child support payment changes.
- Unemployment: You lose your job or are forced to take on a new job with a lower income. It is important to note that very rarely does this apply to parents who quit their job to go back to school or focus on a hobby; getting laid off is not the same thing as voluntarily deciding to leave your job, and the latter of the two can be interpreted by judges as quitting your job in order to avoid having to pay child support.
What Happens if You Fail to Pay Child Support?
Failure to pay the child support amount on the payment schedule set by the court can result in the following consequences:
- Business license suspension
- Driver’s license suspension
- Jail time
- Property seizure
- Tax refund interception
- Wage garnishment
It is important to keep in mind that in the world of child support law, the court makes clear distinctions between child support and visitation. This means that if one parent is not allowing the other parent their court-ordered visitation rights, then you cannot threaten to withhold child support payments in retaliation. That is illegal, and refusing to pay child support will not fix your visitation disagreements. If you are not being allowed your visitation rights by the other parent, then your child custody lawyer will go to court with your evidence and have the custody agreement legally enforced.
What Do I Do if I Can’t Make My Child Support Payments?
If new circumstances has made it hard for you to come up with the amount for child support payments, then you always want to let the court know as soon as possible. Neglecting to make your payment will only make things much more difficult for everyone involved. If you are honest and forthright with the court, they will work with you and your child support lawyer to come up with a solution.
How Do I Collect Unpaid Child Support?
On the other hand, if you are on the other side of the situation and the other parent is not making their child support payments, then your child custody attorney will help you recover the child support payments you are owed. Federal law dictates that state agencies are required to help you collect any delinquent child support payments. Keep detailed records of the child support payments you have received thus far, along with copies of the court documents outlining the child support payment schedule. Your child support lawyer will use this information to collect unpaid payments.