For divorced or separated parents, understanding child support basics is important to provide for your children’s needs. According to the American Bar Association, all 50 states have guidelines when it comes to child support. Here are four key things parents should know about child support based on guidance from family lawyers.
1. How Support Is Determined
Your family lawyers will explain that the court determines child support amounts based on established guidelines that factor in items like both parents’ incomes and percentage of custody. Parents cannot arbitrarily decide on ad-hoc support levels. Adhering to standardized calculations ensures fair, consistent support across cases. If parents with joint custody have greatly disparate incomes, the higher-earning parent may pay more support.
2. When Support Is Owed
Child support is owed whenever a child does not live primarily with both legal parents. If parents informally share custody but the child’s official residence is with one parent, the other typically pays formal support. Unmarried parents also often have court-ordered support obligations. The family lawyer can advise when it is owed based on the custody arrangement.
3. Modifying Support Orders
As parents’ financial situations or custody agreements change, family lawyers can help file motions to increase or decrease existing child support orders. Losing a job, switching to part-time work, or having another child are common reasons parents pursue modifications. Support amounts should align with current circumstances. Both parents must disclose income and custody status for accuracy.
4. Enforcing Delinquent Orders
If the ordered parent falls behind on child support payments, the family lawyer can pursue enforcement actions through the court. Wage garnishment, tax refund seizure, liens on assets, and other remedies are available depending on state laws. Jail time in severe nonpayment cases is also possible. Parents entitled to support should receive court-ordered amounts. A family lawyer can explain enforcement approaches.
Understanding legal obligations, modification options, and enforcement mechanisms allows parents to work constructively together following separation for their children’s welfare. Unfortunately, child support can be a complicated issue, and it can be one that causes a lot of tension in some cases. If you have questions about child support or other family law services, we have answers. Consult us at Flynn Law today for guidance on child support.