Divorce and Child Support

When parents are separated child support becomes an issue, one parent will be required to pay child support if the couple had children.  In fact, the court mandates that an order for child support be filed even if the location of the non-custodial parent is unknown or is not currently working.

State law dictates how child support payments are calculated.  Primary considerations include income of both parents as well as the amount of time the child spends with each parent. This base amount can be added to if the following expenses have been documented:

  • Child care, including afterschool programs
  • Health insurance and medical expenses
  • Educational expenses, including special education
  • Travel expenses for visitation

The base amount of child support can be altered as long as:

  • The change is mutually agreed upon by both parents who understand and acknowledge their legal rights to full child support;
  • The change is in the best interest of the child and both parents agree that the resulting support is adequate; and,
  • Parents have not applied for public assistance and they retain their rights to support.

Judges have full authority over all decisions that affect child support.  They can make changes to child support they determine are most beneficial to children.

It is possible to modify child support orders.  The most common reasons for seeking modification are changes in income or significant changes in circumstances.  Parents can work together to come up with new child support payment terms or they can handle everything through the court.  Once a child support order has been executed after a divorce, you will need a family law attorney to get the amount changed.

Child support orders often include wage assignments.  When a marriage is dissolved by a judge, child support orders become effective. This is the case even though a waiting period is required before the divorce is finalized.  If there is a delay in the dissolution process, you can request child support payments begin in the interim.  A family law attorney can help you with this.

Parents who do not comply with child support orders or are late on payments can be sued by the custodial parent.  The non-compliant parent will be charged with contempt of court for failing to abide by a court order of child support.  They can also have their wages or tax refunds garnished.  A common enforcement tactic is to revoke drivers’ licenses of non-compliant parents.  A family law attorney can help you if you find yourself in any of these situations.

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