One of the most stressful and complex issues surrounding a divorce is that of child support. Even if the terms of custody are agreed upon, the question of who has to pay child support and how much must be paid are almost always contested.
This difficult, critical concept is explained a little more clearly with these 5 common questions and answers regarding child support.
Q&A on Child Support: 5 of the Most Common Questions
- How does the law decide how much child support is ordered? Whichever side of the petition you’re on, whether it’s the paying or receiving end of child support, you are likely concerned about how much the overall total is going to come to. Those of you receiving that child support may need the money to put a roof over your child’s head and feed them, whereas those who are paying the child support need to be able to do the same for yourselves.
Child support amounts come from a formula that is set up to be as fair and objective as possible to both parties. It takes into consideration both family’s monthly incomes, any other child support requirements, how many children are being supported in each household, and other pertinent factors.
The ultimate goal is to provide for the child’s best interests, though, not the adults’. Child support lawyers can help you mediate your case to get a fair payment.
- Can you and your spouse determine child support without going through the court? If both parents can come to an agreement without the intervention of the court system, that is always a good sign. However, the agreed upon amount must be equal to or greater than that of the state’s child support calculator.
- What happens if the responsible party loses their job? Even when they are out of work, the parent responsible for paying child support is still legally obligated to do so. It is possible for them to request a child support modification if the unemployment may be long term and the parent responsible has a significant financial hardship.
- Can you request an increase in the amount of child support received? In the event that your child has had a significant change in their needs, requiring you to pay out of your pocket beyond what was expected with the initial child support order, you can petition for a change in child support. You should expect to show evidence of the new financial expenses, such as a medical hardship or a reason why you must put your child in a private or special school.
- What recourse do you have if your ex is not paying child support? When the person responsible for child support payments gets behind, you can contact the state agency that enforces child support orders. That agency can then file a petition with the family court. If the payments are too far behind, the state can then garnish that party’s wages and tax refunds or even revoke their driver’s license.
Child Support is For the Good of the Child
The inherent reason behind child support is to ensure that your child(ren) receive(s) a safe and healthy upbringing – not for the parents to use the money towards their own good. With this in mind, the failure to pay child support should not be a reason to withhold visitation, and paying child support should not cause resentment towards the other parent.
Working with a knowledgeable child support lawyer can help both parties come to a fair, reasonable agreement that keeps the interests of the child in mind.