Child Custody Attorneys
Child support is often the most contentious issue surrounding child custody. Your child custody arrangement directly affects the child support obligation, but they are separate legal issues. Whether you are to pay or receive child support, a child custody attorney can protect your legal rights, make sure that the amount is fair and properly calculated, assist in modifications to the order, and help you with enforcement issues.
Calculating The Child Support Amount
Each state has its own guidelines for calculating the child support amount, and they can be very different from one state to the next. Parents in the exact same situation may be required far more in one state than they would in another. Although each state is different the basic aspects that are considered when calculating child support include:
- The amount of time the child spends with each parent
- The financial needs of the child
- In income, resources and needs of the parent who is to receive child support
- The other parent’s income and ability to pay
- The child’s standard of living when the parents were together
When considering the income of the paying parent, many states will use an estimate of what that parent could earn if there is reason to believe that they are earning less than their potential.
When parents can come to an agreement out of court, they may or may not be allowed to deviate from the child support guidelines, depending on the state.
Child Support Enforcement
To be legally binding, a child support agreement must be approved by the court, at which point it becomes a court order. Informal agreements between couples are not enforceable. If you are the recipient, have a legally binding support order, and the other parent is not paying your state’s child support enforcement agency is there to enforce the order. In rare cases. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child Support Enforcement may get involved.
Never take matters into your own hands by refusing to let your ex see their child according to the terms of your custody agreement. If you do, you could wind up in jail for contempt of court.
The consequences of failing to pay child support can include:
- Wage garnishment
- Seizure of property
- Driver’s license suspension
- Suspension of professional license
- Suspension of business license
- Jail time for contempt of court
All of the above are meant to compel payment but suspension of licenses and jail time can also create obvious obstacles to earning the money needed to make payments.
Modifying Child Support Orders
Under certain circumstances, child support orders can be modified. Never take it upon yourself to stop paying or pay less than you are ordered to pay. You must get the change approved by the court first, even if your ex agrees to accept a lesser amount.
Modifications to child support orders can be made when there is a change in circumstances for either parent or the child, such as job loss, increase in income, or severe illness. Child support modifications can be temporary or permanent, depending on why the change is needed.
To learn more about child support and your rights, please search this directory for an experienced child custody attorney in your area.