How Much Child Support Should You Be Getting
When a couple is ending their marriage and going through the divorce process, it can be a very difficult and emotional time. When children are involved and custody agreements and child support payments need to be worked out, it can only add to the pressure on both parents. For those going through this process, it is important for them to know what their child support rights are, whether they are the parent receiving support or the one paying the support.
In the eyes of the court, the children’s well-being and quality of life is the most important aspect of the case. While the parents are able to voice their wishes for custody agreements and child support payments, the judge will always rule in favor of the circumstances that will best support the children involved in the process. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the children have the same quality of life they had before the divorce and also ensure that their needs, both financially and emotionally, are met.
Why Are Child Support Payments Needed?
The definition of child support is “court-ordered payments, typically paid by the non-custodial parent, to help support the couple’s minor children.” Family court judges are responsible for setting the child support payment schedule and amount during the couple’s divorce. When a child support order is made by family court, it is meant to help the custodial parent, or the parent with primary custody of the children, maintain the children’s quality of life.
This money, usually paid by the non-custodial parent, or the parent who does not have custody, is meant to be used for items such as:
- Child Care
- School Supplies
- Medical Care
- Additional Items Such as Activity/Class Fees
This money that the custodial parent receives is meant to help the children continue their lives as normal and ensure all their costs and needs are covered. This helps the children to make an easier transition into living in a single-parent household and continue to live a happy, healthy life.
How Much Child Support Should the Custodial Parent Receive?
While going through this process, custodial parents will often find them asking themselves, “how much child support should I be receiving?” The Federal Child Support Enforcement Act outlines different child support calculation formulas for custodial parents based on their unique situation. It is also important to keep in mind that the amount of child support ordered by one judge in State A may be different than what is ordered by another judge in State B.
In these situations, parents may find it beneficial to seek the advice of a lawyer who specializes in family law, child custody, and child support cases. This professional will be able to explain how the formulas that are part of the Federal Child Support Enforcement Act work and how they may apply to the parent’s specific child support case. Additionally, the lawyer will be able to support the parent in court and ensure they are being treated fairly and receiving the appropriate amount of child support.
How a Judge Will Determine the Amount of Child Support
When considering the amount of child support they will award the custodial parent, a family court judge will take a number of factors into consideration including:
- Current Parental Custody Agreement
- Ability of Non-Custodial Parent to Pay Child Support
- Number of Children Involved in the Case
For those parents who have sole custody of the children in questions, child support will most often be paid by the non-custodial parent. For those parents with joint custody of the children, the child support agreement will be based on each parent’s financial ability to care for the children and which parent is more financially stable. Additionally, in joint custody cases, the percentage of time the children spend with each parent will play a role in the decision on child support payments.
The primary goal of child support payments is to ensure the children’s quality of life does not change after the parents have divorced. Because of this, the court will evaluate the children’s current manner of living and use that information to help determine child support payment amounts. While this is the goal, the court will recognize if maintaining this lifestyle is no longer possible and adjust accordingly. Other factors that will weigh heavily on this decision include:
- Special Requirements for the Children
- Dental Care
- Vision Care
- Medical Insurance
- Child Care Costs
Providing Financial Information
During the child support process, both parents will need to provide a financial statement. This will detail the expenses incurred monthly as well as their monthly income. This financial information is crucial in how the court will calculate appropriate child support payments and which parent will be making and receiving these payments. The court will take the time to subtract mandatory deductions from the parents’ incomes and may account for the increase in cost of living expenses.
Disputing a Child Support Decision
If one or both of the parents do not agree on the child support agreement passed down by the court, or one or both of their financial situations change down the line, they have the option to go back to the judge and ask for the payments to be increased or lowered based on the new circumstances. Additionally, if the parent providing the child support misses payments or refuses to pay, the parent who is receiving the parents can petition the court to force the other party to make their payments.
Consequences for Not Paying Child Support
For parents who fail to pay the ordered child support to the receiving parent, there are legal consequences they will face. These penalties include:
- An Arrest Warrant Being Issued for the Paying Parent (May be Criminal or Civil)
- Being Found in Contempt of Court
- Being Charged Fines
- Having to Serve Jail Time
- Wage Garnishment (Includes Garnishment of Unemployment Benefits and/or Worker’s Compensation)
- Denial of Tax Refunds
Professional Legal Support
Since the child custody and child support laws can vary from one state to the next, it is important for both parents to retain the help of a legal professional who specializes in family court and child custody issues in the state in which the judgment is taking place. This will help to ensure that the receiving parent is getting the amount of child support their children deserve and need and will also help the paying parent to not be overrun with child support payments that may be unjust or unfair.
Going through a divorce is difficult on its own but when the pressures of having to deal with child custody and child support are added to the mix, the process can be draining and emotion. This is why it is so important to seek the assistance of a legal professional to help ensure you are making the best decisions for yourself as well as for the welfare of your children. A family law attorney can help the case go smoothly and ensure you are receiving the child support payment you deserve during your divorce.