Child support is the financial contribution of a parent for the proper care of their child. Typically, this payment is made from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent.
Child support, like custody, can be solved either through cooperation by both parents out of court, or through the decision of a judge in court. Ideally, the parents would come to a mutual agreement with the assistance of their attorneys, and the support terms would be recorded in a written contract to be later approved by a judge. Mediation is also an option in deliberating child support, in which an impartial agent would help negotiate the terms of the agreement. However, if these attempts fail, or a biological parent refuses to negotiate child support, the matter can be taken to court.
The primary factors considered in deciding the terms of child support are the needs of the child or children, the financial situation of the parent making the payments, and the financial situation of the custodial parent. Also, the payments are typically larger with more than one child in question. All of these will be taken into consideration by the judge, who will then decide on the appropriate payment, usually summed up as a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. If a parent’s financial situation changes or the child is in need of more support, such as medical expenses in the event of an injury or illness, then the support ruling may be amended.
Each state has different laws on the requirements of child support, which depend on all of these factors and taxes affecting the non-custodial parent’s income. These guidelines are in place with the best interest of the child at heart, and they must be adhered to by both the parents and the ruling judge.
If you are entitled by a court order or court-authorized written agreement to receive child support, and the payments are not being made, you could take the non-custodial parent to court. By law, the district attorney’s office is required to assist you in acquiring those payments and will notify the delinquent parent. If payments are still not made the parent could face fines, seizure of property, and jail time.
There are several circumstances in which child support can be reduced. First of all, if the non-custodial spouse encounters financial difficulties or loss of employment through downsizing or lay-offs, they can file a motion with the court to reduce support payments. However, the spouse must prove that their situation is severely diminished, and that the difficulties occurred through no fault of their own. A non-custodial parent cannot quit their job in the hopes of reducing their support payments. In some states, if the custodial parent’s financial situation improves, or if they remarry, they may be entitled to smaller support payments. Also, while a child’s injuries or disabilities may require for an increase in payments, the child’s recovery may call for a reduction in payments. Also, once a child reaches the age of eighteen, or graduates from high school they may not be entitled to support payments. This varies from state to state, so it’s important to look into your state’s specific child support codes.
If you are involved in a child support dispute, need to enforce a child support order or need to amend an existing order, hiring a child support lawyer is strongly recommended. The best interests of you and your child are at stake. A child support lawyer can make sure that your interests are represented and that you are not taken advantage of.
Child support lawyers generally charge on an hourly basis and charge a retainer. The more complicated the child support issue is, the more it will likely cost you.