Divorce is difficult on all members of a family. When children are involved, it is even more emotionally-draining. There are also issues to be considered that affect the physical and financial welfare of the child. This is called child support.

child support

How Are Payments Calculated?

The guidelines for determining the amount of child support a parent is required to pay for a biological child varies from state to state. The factors that are similar across all states are the:

  • Standard of living of the family before the divorce
  • Net income of each parent
  • Hardship factors that may affect the ability to pay support
  • Time each parent spends with the children
  • Number, needs, and ages of the children

The payments are dictated by the court. The courts consider the following to be income:

  • Wages
  • Bonuses
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Tips
  • Social security, unemployment, veteran’s and disability benefits
  • Commissions
  • Annuities
  • Pensions
  • Interest
  • Self-employment earnings
  • Private or government retirement benefits
  • Pensions.

Child Custody and Child Support

Both parents are responsible for the financial needs of their children. In the case of divorce, if one parent is awarded physical custody, that parent is also known as the custodial parent.

The non-custodial parent then pays child support in accordance with the law and the divorce agreement.

When parents share custody, the amount of child support is determined by court calculations taking into consideration the amount of money each parent contributed to the couple’s joint income. The percentage of time each parent has physical custody of the children is also factored into the calculation.

The more time a custodial parent is responsible for the child’s care, the more child support they should get. For example, if a parent has sole legal and physical custody, the non-custodial parent will be required to pay the highest amount of child support according to their state’s guidelines.

When Circumstances Change

There will be times when circumstances in each parent’s life might change such as remarriage or changes in job and income.

Keep in mind that only a court can change a mandated child support payment. If there is agreement between both spouses, it is much easier. If they don’t agree, the process becomes much more difficult.

The onus is on the spouse who wants to make the change to prove that what has changed has a direct impact on the amount of payment.

Changes in Support Payments

To change child support payments that have been dictated by a court, it will require legal action. There are situations where a judge might decide a change is warranted.

For example, if the parent paying support loses a job or has to take a lower-paying job. Most judges will not rule in favor of a parent who voluntarily leaves a job. In cases of emergencies, a court may decrease child support obligations temporarily.

How Long are Child Support Payments Required?

Usually child support payments are paid up to the age of 18. If the child lives at home or is dependent upon the parents, support payments may extend beyond the age of 18.

For students, child support can last through the age of 23. Lastly, severely disabled children may require payments to be made through his or her entire life.

Ending Child Support Payments

As stated above, the amount of support one parent is required to pay to the other for child support depends upon many factor including the number of children involved and the type of care needed.

The parent that is required to pay for this support is mandated by law to pay under penalty of sanctions. If circumstances change that make it difficult or impossible to pay child support, the decision must be made by the courts.

Even if a parent thinks it is reasonable to not pay child support for any number of reasons, he or she can get into legal trouble if the change is not sanctioned by the courts.

There are some situations where ending child support obligations are possible. As explained by the lawyers from Arenson Law Group: “Changes in circumstances can change financial obligations. If your financial situation changes, a court may agree to shifting the financial responsibilities of either parent”.

There are laws to protect the welfare of children of divorced parents. When the child lives with one parent, unless the custodial parent waives the right, the other parent is required by law to make child support payments.

It is essential that you understand the procedures and laws of your state as they vary depending upon where you live.