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7 Essential Things To Know About Child Support

Things To Know About Child Support

Child support is a significant part of family law, especially when there is a divorce. That is because children’s financial well-being in divorced families is crucial and cannot be ignored. You may have read or heard countless stories about one parent failing to pay child support, often leaving the family to face financial struggles. Data indicates that 14.7 million kids live in households receiving child support, indicating the need to be well-informed about the key things to know about child support, especially if you’re going through a divorce. Below are some vital points to provide insight into the situation.

1. It caters to basic needs

Child support is a financial safety net for minors, covering their fundamental human needs like shelter, clothing, healthcare, and food. The objective is to ensure that children are well cared for after a divorce or if one parent fails to contribute to the kids’ welfare. While child support may not hold promise for a life of glamor and luxury, it ensures a reasonably consistent standard of living. There is a misconception that child support is supposed to cover a child’s extracurricular activities. Others believe it also covers the child’s private tuition and college costs. It is important to note that while these are important, they are not factored into child support costs. They should be discussed separately, hoping both parents will agree on extra costs as part of a divorce settlement. If the parents were never married, an attorney may help the parties involved negotiate what is ideal. Once again, parents’ incomes are considered before any decisions are made. It will be in your interest to distinguish between a child’s basic needs and ensuring their financial future.

2. Child support can be modified

Although the formulas vary between states, the orders are not set in stone because child support amounts can be adjusted. This is only applicable if one parent’s financial circumstances change dramatically. For instance, if you are obligated to pay a fixed monthly amount toward child support, the court may review it downward if you become unemployed. In the same way, there may be an increase if you gain a better job with higher pay. The court might make changes if the child’s needs warrant modification. It helps to follow the legal process for any modification but remember that you may need to produce substantial evidence before taking the right action. 

Additionally, because either parent can initiate child support modification, you should always have records of past payments. In cases where modification is needed due to a child’s medical condition, the court may request the primary care physician or specialist to provide proof. As cumbersome as this sounds, it pays to never fall foul of the law. Never take for granted the importance of an attorney in these situations. Their experience in family law can prove invaluable to your case.

3. Child support enforcement mechanisms exist

The law’s backing makes child support obligatory and mandatory. It also explains why enforcement mechanisms exist to ensure regular flow of due amounts. As you may have guessed, child support enforcement is for non-custodial parents. The enforcement mechanism is applied when the paying parent fails to fulfill their financial responsibilities. That may come in the form of driver's license suspension, tax refund interception, and sometimes, imprisonment. However, the latter applies only in extreme cases. Knowing the legal consequences of non-payment acts as a guide to ensure regular child support flow. The question, therefore, is why delay child support payments if there are no existing financial challenges? You risk dire legal consequences until you play your role as a non-custodial parent. Another tip is to be on cordial or even civil terms with the other parent to avoid animosity creeping in. There are cases where you can appeal to the other parent, especially when there might be a little delay in your child support payment.

4. Child support formulas vary by state

In terms of key things to know about child support, the child support formula in Pennsylvania varies from what pertains in New York, explaining why the monthly fees are different. Every state has varying guidelines for calculating this essential financial obligation. The formula is based on each parent’s income, the number of kids involved, and how much time each parent spends with the child or children. These regulations are specific to each state, so before you take an estranged partner or spouse to court, know what pertains to yours. That can significantly influence how much child support you receive or give monthly. Some firms like Freed Marcroft divorce and family law make it a point to help parents navigate these state-specific regulations to ensure they give or receive what’s due. It is inadvisable to proceed to pay or receive child support without determining these nuances. You may fall foul of the law when you ignore these critical details of child support.

5. Paternity matters in child support

You may have watched paternity court TV shows where men realize they aren’t the biological parents. This news usually comes after several years of child support payments. Several men have learned this the hard way; that explains why establishing paternity is crucial before starting child support payments. The court will calculate your child support costs after paternity has been established. There have been cases where some men continue child support payments even after paternity proves they are not the biological parents. However, this happens only in rare cases. Did you know that a man doesn’t have to rely only on genetic testing to commence child support payments? The court may consider voluntary acknowledgment if you come forward to declare the child as yours. This type of declaration continues to ignite heated debates, but that doesn’t deter some men from coming forward to start payments in the absence of genetic testing. 

6. Child support is not tax deductible

Have you ever wondered why child support payments are not tax deductible? The answer is that the money is not considered income for the recipient. In the same breath, it’s not considered a deductible expense for the payer. People tend to confuse spousal support or alimony with child support. The former may have tax implications, but only the court will decide after considering some factors. Knowing that child support is not tax-deductible makes it easier for the receiving parent to have enough to attend to the kids’ needs. You may want to consult a tax professional or attorney to explain this. Your specific situation may differ, so do not miss the opportunity to be guided by experts. Child support is a significant topic in family law, so do your best to learn more about it.

7. Child support may end at a certain age

Once again, this varies according to your state, but the range is from 18 - 21 years. That is when the law decides that the child is no longer a minor and can support themselves. However, there are exceptions to this rule regardless of the state you reside in. For instance, if your child is still in high school at eighteen, you should continue payments. The law assumes that those children cannot fend for themselves because they are still in high school. 

Another noteworthy point is to consider the state your child lives in. If it differs from your state, it is advisable to go by the child’s state. Failing to do so may result in the custodial parent suing you for non-payment or child support termination.

Remember to be guided by these things to know about child support if you must pay child support. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the terrain.

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