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Child Support Lawyers

Child support is paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to provide for the financial needs of the child or children. This can include health insurance and extend as far as college tuition in some cases. Each state has a different standard and a different method for calculating child support, as well as a different limit on the percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income that can be taken for child support. The amount of child support will be the same whether or not the parents were ever married.

The amount of child support is granted based on the idea that a child should share the standard of living of both parents. If the non-custodial parent is much wealthier than the parent that the child lives with the amount of child support may be substantial, and will inevitably benefit the entire household in a manner that elevates the standard of living for the child to more closely mirror the standard of living of the wealthier parent.

Support guidelines
Federal law requires each state to set support guidelines that are used to create a standard formula for calculating the appropriate amount of child support that a parent must pay. These guidelines vary from state to state, but ensure that the manner of determining child support amounts do not vary from case to case within states. The guidelines are based on the proportion of income that presumably would have been spent on the child if the family had stayed together. Using these guidelines the payment amount is calculated based on several factors including:

  • Non-custodial parent’s income
  • Time spent with the child
  • Number of children
  • Special circumstances, such as unusual medical or special educational needs of the child

Income
Certain mandatory expenses, such as taxes, are taken into consideration. Living expenses, such as rent and utilities are generally not taken into consideration. Some states calculate support amounts based on “earning capacity” rather than current income in the hope of preventing non-custodial parents from quitting work or taking a lower-paying job in order to have lower payments. The maximum percentage of income that may be taken for child support varies from state to state.

Time spent with the child
The non-custodial parent may spend virtually no time with the child or up to 49% of the time with the child. This can greatly impact the amount of support because it is assumed that during the time spent with a child the parent is also providing financial support that is not included in the child support payments.

Number of children
The amount of support per child reduces as the number of children increases because it is assumed that certain expenses inherent to having children do not grow equally with the number of children.

Child support modification
Either parent may request a hearing for child support modification if something changes. Some states bar parents from requesting a modification for a set amount of time after support orders have been issued. This can be a period of several years. Factors which may change and warrant a child support order modification include:

  • Change in income
  • Newly incurred disability of a parent
  • Change in child support guidelines
  • Remarriage
  • Changes in the needs of the child

Child support issues can be very complicated and failure to pay child support can result in garnishment of wages, loss of driver’s license and/or passport, and a lengthy jail sentence. Any parent facing child support issues whether seeking child support, potentially having to pay child support, or wishing to modify child support orders should contact an experienced child support attorney before any action is taken.

If you are facing or contemplating child support actions of any type, contact an experienced child support attorney today.

 
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