When children are involved in a divorce case, one of the parents will be forced to pay child support. This is true even in cases where the second party is not present, cannot be found for the proceedings, or is unemployed. The terms of child support are dictated by state laws, as each individual state generally has guidelines based on income and the time each parent is awarded with the children.
While each state has these basic guidelines, there are also circumstances that may dictate that additional funds be paid by the parent. Some of these conditions are:
• Health Insurance and Health Care – if neither parent has a medical plan, the courts may dictate how much of the premiums each parent is responsible for. If, however, one parent has a medical plan, the children may be covered under that plan with a possible change in how the assets are divided to accommodate the parent with the coverage.
• Travel Costs Related to Visitation – if one parent leaves the area and travel costs are incurred to meet the visitation schedule, that parent may be required to pay these costs so as not to violate the custody agreement.
• Special Needs – if the child requires special education or has special medical needs, these costs will be added to the child support as determined by the court.
• Child Care – the courts may decide to add on childcare payments to take care of the children while one parent has custody of them. For instance, perhaps the father cannot take the children during weekdays but the mother has a job. A portion or all of those costs may be added to the support costs for the father.
Parents can also mutually agree to increase or decrease child support payments on their own. If this is the case, they must have documentation in place to protect the parent paying child support. For instance, the parents decide that the father can decrease his monthly payment by $100 as long as he buys all school uniforms and clothing for the kids as needed. He can abide by this but if the agreement were not documented, he would lose his case in court.
Generally, there are no exceptions as to when the child support agreement can be modified, as long as both parents agree. However, if the agreed terms are not met, the parent paying child support may end up forfeiting visitation rights as well as having garnishments put on his or her wages until back payment is met. If this becomes an ongoing problem, the parent may face jail time.
Because of all of the legalities and technical aspects of child support, it is recommended that both parents secure a divorce attorney to handle the case. Otherwise, you run the risk of literally being run over by your ex spouse’s attorney that could result in excessive child support and limited visitation rights.