It might come as a surprise to learn that biological parents of a child are legally obliged to support them financially until they reach the age of 18 or the age of majority. This is why when parents separate or get divorced who have children under the age of majority, they have to agree on child support.
A child support agreement is something that a family court approves. It will stipulate the amount and frequency of the payment in respect of each child concerned which contributes to the raising of that child.
What Do Child Support Payments Cover?
These payments are to cover expenses such as:
- Shelter, food, and clothing
- Healthcare and medical expenses
- Educational expenses
So, those are the basics but what else do you need to consider?
What the Court Considers
The court considers the needs of the child. Child support decisions are based on considerations of health insurance, education, daycare expenses, and any other special needs that the child might have. The court will also consider the income level of the custodial parent (i.e., the parent who has custody).
The parent who does not have custody of the child is the one who will pay child support. The decisive factor when calculating the amount of child support is the parent’s ability to pay. If applicable, the court takes the child’s standard of living before the divorce or separation into account.
Services such as rightlawyers.com can help you work out what child support should include in your individual case.
Financial Statements and the Child Support Agreement
Normally, the courts need each parent to complete a statement detailing their finances including their monthly income and expenses. Based on that information and the amount of time each parent spends with the child the court will use a specific formula for the purpose to calculate the exact amount of child support payments.
Some states have a specific calculation template while others allow the courts to exercise some discretion.
Visitation arrangements and the proportion of time the child spends with each parent could also influence how child support is calculated.
Additional Child Support Factors
It is usual for child support payments to be worked out on the actual income the paying parent has. Some courts, however, may also consider a parent’s ability to earn as opposed to the actual earnings.
This means that although, say, you only earn $30,000 a year, that you have the potential to earn $100,000, then the court may calculate the child support amount based on the earning potential rather than the actual opening.
The court awards child support through a child support order. If a parent fails to make scheduled payments the local district attorney can serve papers on the delinquent parent. If the parent still does not comply with the child support order actions such as seizing tax funds garnishing wages putting liens on property revoking driver’s license revoking passports are possible.
Get Legal Advice
When considering the child support agreement it is important that you talk to your lawyer. Family law attorneys will give you advice that is most appropriate to your case. This article serves as a general introduction to the topic and should not be taken as legal advice in itself.
Although separation and divorce are hard, it’s worth going to family court to ensure, at the very least, that you fulfill your legal parental obligations towards your child or children.
Feel free to read other articles on our site that might help you navigate the legal landscape with confidence.