The law requires every parent to provide for their child’s basic needs. In a situation where parents are no longer together, child support comes into play. The essence of child support is to ensure that the basic needs of children whose parents are no longer together are covered. While the basic concept of child support may appear simple, calculating the amount parents should pay can be complex, says Tamar Begun of Capital Family & Divorce Law Group. Provide For Their Child’s Basic Since state laws on child support differ, it is advisable to contact a local family lawyer. Your lawyer will be in the best position to explain and guide a parent through the process of filing and paying child support.
What Is Child Support?
When both parents of a child live separately, the child resides primarily with one of the parents, known as the custodial parent. Provide For Their Child’s Basic An exception to this is in cases where the parents share physical custody of the child.
Calculating Child Support and How the Guidelines Work
Federal law requires all states to have guidelines for calculating child support, which differs from state to state. Therefore, the child support a parent pays depends on the state of residence and their unique circumstances. The child support guidelines stipulates the criteria or formula that judges must consider in arriving at the amount a parent should pay. These criteria are vital and include, but are not limited to:
The financial needs of a child, such as education, childcare, insurance, medical or other special needs
All sources of income of the custodial parent
The gross earnings of the paying parent (paying for the child support)
The standard of living of the child before the separation of both parents
Courts typically ask each parent to fill out a form that provides a thorough overview of their financial state before reaching a child support decision. Details parents must provide in the form include their monthly earnings and expenses. The purpose of the form is to assist the court in making a fair decision on child welfare.
Is it Possible for Child Support to be Less or More than the Amount Set Out In the Guidelines?
In a case where you believe the guidelines should not apply but your spouse disagrees, you must inform the judge. If there are compelling reasons, judges are permitted to deviate from the guidelines. For instance, as a paying parent, you can argue that the support payment should be less than the guideline amount.
To win in any of the above situations, prepare to show the court any relevant documentation. A budget showing all child-related expenses will impress the court with the parent’s concern for their needs. Other factors that could make a judge set support above or below the guideline level include The judge will likely invite the parents to appear in court at a specific period to assess their current situation.
Dodging responsibilities: parent earnings may not always reflect their actual earning capacity. Consider a parent who has a legal degree but works as a supermarket clerk. It mostly happens if the judge feels the parent is taking a low-paying job to avoid paying support. Is It Possible for Parents to Create a Child Support Agreement? Parents can create their child support agreement.
Is it Possible To Base Child Support On Earning Capacity Rather Than Actual Income?
Unfortunately, some parents intentionally limit their income to reduce their child support obligations. However, there may be valid reasons why some parents do not earn as much as they should. For instance, they may have a handicap that limits employment or lose their job and cannot obtain a new one despite their best efforts. In addition, depending on state law, some judges may refuse to impute income to a parent seeking higher education. There are some criteria judges typically consider when determining the potential employment and earnings of a paying parent. They include the degree of education, recent work experience, occupational qualifications, current job prospects, and pay levels in the neighborhood.