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Child Support - Top 5 Questions

What is child support?


 

Child support is payment provided by parent's to help a child during their formative years following a divorce or separation. When you have a child the court assumes your principal obligation is to support that child the best you can according to financial ability. With this assumption, if parents divorce, the court assumes that the child's standard of living should not substantially decrease, but instead, they should be able to maintain their current standard of living.

For example, if the custodial parent is unable to provide the financial support that the other parent enjoys, the court recognizes that child support should reflect the lifestyle of the non-custodial parent. The courts often award child support as a percentage of the noncustodial parent's income.

Who has to pay child support?


 

State courts can order either the mother or the father to pay child support. Payments are made on a monthly basis and generally deducted automatically from the wages of the parent. Automatic deduction generally eliminates the need for additional state or law enforcement interaction.

How long does a parent have to pay child support?


 

The duration of child support payments can vary by state, but generally payment must be paid while the child is considered a minor or attending high school. Certain states have extended the responsibility of the parents but generally child support is terminated when the child either marries, becomes self-supporting, joins the military, dies or reaches nineteen years of age.

When can child support payments be modified?


 

Given the state of the economy and the high job loss rate, many individuals have found that they are unable to continue to make child support payments. It is possible to modify a child support order if there has been a "material" change in the situation of the person paying child support.

Material change can be negative or positive. For instance, child support could be lowered if there has been a job loss or wage decrease. It could be increased, however, if the parent paying has received a large inheritance or if the child spends less time with the parent.

The courts may also increase child support payments if the needs of the child change, for instance, if the child has a substantial increase in their medical needs or educational requirements.

How does the court determine the amount of child support paid?


 

State laws may vary, but generally the courts will evaluate the net incomes of each parent. The court will derive the net income by first subtracting expenses from their gross income including taxes, health insurance costs, mandatory costs, and health insurance.

Issues to consider prior to filing for divorce


 

Child custody and child support issues are the two biggest concerns for most divorcing parents. Most parents are concerned with whether or not they will be able to take care of their child and maintain a good standard of living for their child after their divorce. Other parents are very concerned about their child's overall well-begin.

What do you do to ensure your child is taken care of after your divorce? The first thing to do is talk to a good divorce lawyer.