Child support is the financial contribution of a parent for the
proper care of their child. Typically, this payment is made from the
non-custodial parent to the custodial parent.
How Child Support is Decided
Child support, like custody, can be solved either through cooperation
by both parents out of court, or through the decision of a judge in
court. Ideally, the parents would come to a mutual agreement with the
assistance of their attorneys, and the support terms would be recorded
in a written contract to be later approved by a judge. Mediation is also
an option in deliberating child support, in which an impartial agent
would help negotiate the terms of the agreement. However, if these
attempts fail, or a biological parent refuses to negotiate child
support, the matter can be taken to court.
Factors that Determine Child Support Rulings
The primary factors considered in deciding the terms of child support
are the needs of the child or children, the financial situation of the
parent making the payments, and the financial situation of the custodial
parent. Also, the payments are typically larger with more than one
child in question. All of these will be taken into consideration by the
judge, who will then decide on the appropriate payment, usually summed
up as a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. If a parent’s
financial situation changes or the child is in need of more support,
such as medical expenses in the event of an injury or illness, then the
support ruling may be amended.
Each state has different laws on
the requirements of child support, which depend on all of these factors
and taxes affecting the non-custodial parent’s income. These guidelines
are in place with the best interest of the child at heart, and they must
be adhered to by both the parents and the ruling judge.
What You Can Do if Child Support Payments Are Not Being Made
If you are entitled by a court order or court-authorized written
agreement to receive child support, and the payments are not being made,
you could take the non-custodial parent to court. By law, the district
attorney’s office is required to assist you in acquiring those payments
and will notify the delinquent parent. If payments are still not made
the parent could face fines, seizure of property, and jail time.
What You Can do if You Need to Reduce Child Support Payments
There are several circumstances in which child support can be
reduced. First of all, if the non-custodial spouse encounters financial
difficulties or loss of employment through downsizing or lay-offs, they
can file a motion with the court to reduce support payments. However,
the spouse must prove that their situation is severely diminished, and
that the difficulties occurred through no fault of their own. A
non-custodial parent cannot quit their job in the hopes of reducing
their support payments. In some states, if the custodial parent’s
financial situation improves, or if they remarry, they may be entitled
to smaller support payments. Also, while a child’s injuries or
disabilities may require for an increase in payments, the child’s
recovery may call for a reduction in payments. Also, once a child
reaches the age of eighteen, or graduates from high school they may not
be entitled to support payments. This varies from state to state, so
it’s important to look into your state’s specific child support codes.
Hiring a Child Support Lawyer
If you are
involved in a child support dispute, need to enforce a child support
order or need to amend an existing order, hiring a child support lawyer
is strongly recommended. The best interests of you and your child are at
stake. A child support lawyer can make sure that your interests are
represented and that you are not taken advantage of.
Child support lawyers generally charge on an hourly basis and charge a
retainer. The more complicated the child support issue is, the more it
will likely cost you.