You may have already learned firsthand that though your child support agreement was finalized, it may not be final. Indeed, either you or the other parent may have legitimate need to modify the agreement. If you have not yet come to agreement with the other parent concerning child support payments and terms, a child support lawyer can assist you in the negotiations and make sure your rights are protected throughout the legal process.
What is child support?
Child support is a continuous process in which one parent makes consistent and scheduled payments to the other parent as financial support of their child or children. Having once been married is not a requirement for one parent to be financially beholden to providing support for the child. In addition, even if the parent who is obligated to pay child support does not want any contact with the child, they must make their payments to the other parent. If your circumstances warrant an exception to these general rules, your child support lawyer can inform you.
The Nature of Child Support Payments
Child support is for the child, not the parent. Though a portion of the child support may go toward housing costs, it is primarily for the child’s cost of living. After a careful review of your child’s circumstances, your child support lawyer can help you break down the costs. For example:
- Extracurricular school activities such as field trip costs
- Educational expenses such as secondary school lunches, backpacks, school supplies, etc.
- Unless a separate agreement has been made between the parents, child support does not include college tuition and related costs
The Determination of Child Support Payments
A common question our child support lawyer receives centers on how the child support payments are determined—how much are the payments, how often must they be paid, and for how long? For answers to these questions, one must consider the same criteria that the Court will take into account:
- The annual income of each parent
- The number of shared children, and the ages of those children. Any child who is not a minor, unless they are significantly disabled will not be considered
- How many nights the child will spend at each home
- Daycare costs, if any
- Health insurance costs for each child
- The cost of living for each child
Determination of Each Parent’s Earnings
If the parents formerly lived together, the cost of living may increase for both if the burden of housing falls completely on each parent in their new living situation. If either has recently made a major purchase such as a house or car, that does not reduce their legal, and moral obligation to financially support their child. In other words, not being able to afford to make child support payments is not acceptable in the eyes of the Court. If the non-custodial parent remarries, their new spouse’s income will not be considered. However, in determining the financial ability of the non-custodial parent to pay child support, their income in the following categories will be taken into consideration:
- Annual base pay
- Expected bonuses including holiday, year-end, and performance-based
- Overtime pay
- Workers compensation payments
- Unemployment benefits
- Social security payments
If you have questions or concerns related to child support obligations, contact the family law attorney has to offer who can help you resolve the issues you’re facing.