What You Need to Know About How Child Support Works

According to a 2017 report by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, one out of every two marriages today end in divorce. And, many of the marriages that dissolve include couples with kids.

If you are contemplating a divorce with your child's other parent, it's important that you understand how child support works. Despite problems that you may have with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, the law requires that all parents accept financial responsibility for their children.

Read on to find out what you should know about the key factors pertaining to child support!

What Every Parent Should Know About How Child Support Works

Divorce can be difficult for everyone involved. But, when children are part of the equation, matters can get even more complicated.

Child support is one of the areas in a divorce that often spurs confusion. Learning how child support works can minimize confusion and create a smoother outcome for families facing divorce.

Here are some things about child support that every parent needs to know. We also recommend to check out this amazingly guide to understand divorce process here at petersmay.com.

1. What Is Child Support?

Unless you have terminated your rights as a parent, you have a legal obligation to help financially support your child.

When parents that do not live together, children often spend more time with one parent than they do the other. Sometimes, parents may agree to split the amount of time that a child spends with both of them equally. Either way, both parents are expected to contribute financially towards their child's care.

Child support is the financial obligation that a parent is expected to pay for the care of their child. Child support payments are typically paid by the non-custodial parent to the parent with whom the child spends the majority of their time. 

2. How Is the Amount of Child Support Determined?

Many parents do not realize that they have little say in determining the amount of child support awarded by the court system during a divorce. Instead, there are Child Support Guidelines in place to ensure that the amount one pays for child support is adequate and fair.

Child Support Guidelines are based on many variables and vary by state. For example, the parents' primary income, childcare expenses, the parents' personal assets, and additional forms of income may influence the formula that determines child support.

Each parent must provide true information. They may be asked to prove the information that they provide with supporting documents, such as tax returns, childcare receipts, and bank statements.
The Child Support Guidelines help determine the total cost of raising a child, based on the information provided by the parents. Then, one can use the guidelines to calculate the percentage that each parent should pay towards the child's total costs.

3. Other Factors That May Help Determine Child Support

While the Child Support Guidelines may help to eliminate potential confusion about each parent's financial obligation, there are other factors to consider.

In some cases, parents will disagree about the contributing factors that may play a part in determining the amount of child support.

For example, if the parents were not married at the time of the child's birth, the father may claim that he is not the biological parent. The court will then request a test to determine paternity before requiring that he pay child support.

Other factors that can influence the amount determined for child support is the family's quality of life prior to separation, specific needs related to the care of the child, and the net worth of the parents. 
The court might also consider each parents' work experience, their earning potential, and whether one party was the sole financial contributor throughout the marriage.

4. Important Facts About Child Support

Parents should understand that child support is not optional. If a parent is ordered to pay child support and refuses, they may face harsh penalties. These penalties include criminal charges, being sentenced to jail or prison, and the loss of one's driver's license.

Whether or not a parent pays their child support has no bearing on a parent's right to visitation. Even if a parent refuses to pay child support or is unable to make the required payments, the custodial parent can not withhold visitation.

There are instances that warrant a reduction in the amount of child support that a parent has to pay. However, unless the court establishes a new order for a reduced amount of child support, the amount remains the same. This is true even if the parent required to pay loses their job, becomes disabled, or faces financial hardship for other reasons.

Also, child support is not affected should either parent remarry. And, the amount of child support doesn't change if either parent has additional children after their divorce.

5. Who Should You Talk to About Establishing or Changing a Child Support Order? 

Family law attorneys
are experienced in matters pertaining to child support. Often, each parent will hire their own attorney to represent them during a divorce. The attorneys will help parents come to a mutual agreement on child support.

If the parents cannot agree, the matter will be decided by a judge. Each parent's attorney can represent them during court proceedings. They can also offer legal advice, file motions, and request subpoenas that might influence a judge's final decision.

A family law attorney can also help to guide you through the process to request a change in the amount of child support that you pay or receive. In most cases, the court will only revisit a child support order if there is evidence that the parents' financial situation has changed. 

How Child Custody Is Determined in a Divorce

For many parents, the most important thing in a divorce is not how child support works, but the issue of child custody. Unfortunately, there is one answer to which parent receives custody of children.

Today, many fathers are stepping up and taking an active role in their child's day to day activities. This has contributed to a rise in joint custody agreements.

Sometimes the father receives primary custody. Other times it's the mother chosen as the primary custodial parent.

Judges often consider the circumstances leading to divorce when establishing custody of children.
If one party suspects infidelity by the other or illegal or immoral acts, this might influence a judge's decision. If a parent can produce evidence supporting their claim, the judge is more likely to take their claim seriously.

Check out this post to learn how you can collect clues about what your spouse is doing when they're away from home!

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