Child support is a payment designated for childcare following a divorce. The parent who does not receive child custody during divorce is usually the one who makes child support payments. However, even when parents receive joint custody in divorce, one may have to pay child support to the other. Divorcing parents should turn to an expert when dealing with child support issues.
Federal law dictates that states consistently adhere to child support guidelines. Each state has a different set of guidelines, so a divorcing couple should consult a family law attorney practicing in their state. Parental income, childcare expenses, and costs for healthcare are considered when calculating child support. Determining the final amount can be complex due to paternity issues and other unusual situations.
When both parents receive child custody during divorce but one earns substantially more money, that party may be required to pay child support. If children spend more time with one parent than with the other, child support may also be warranted. Even if the couple did not marry until after the child was born, one spouse may have to pay child support until the child reaches the age of majority, commonly called adulthood.
Traditionally, mothers received child custody during divorce and fathers had to pay child support. However, more fathers are getting joint custody or even sole custody in divorce. These custodial fathers are entitled to receive child support payments. Family law attorneys help them exercise this right and determine a fair amount of financial support based on the circumstances. If the couple is unable to agree on a child support payment, the lawyer will ask a family court to decide.
In general, the amount of child support a non-custodial parent must pay is directly related to the amount of time the children spend with that parent. For example, a non-custodial parent who has two days of visitation weekly will probably pay less child support than one with visitation only two days per month. If either parent remarries, this will not alter child support payments because stepparents are not required to pay child support.
Child support guidelines are designed to treat each parent fairly. However, the amount of child support they call for is sometimes not feasible and a divorcing parent can petition a family court for a different amount. A successful outcome depends on making a strong case supported by documentation, so retaining a family law attorney is recommended.