It can be a long time after the date your divorce is finalized until child support obligations end. Parents must support their child until they reach the age of 18, and the responsibility may last longer if a court orders support for a child while they obtain higher education. During all these years, your children’s needs and your financial situation are likely to change.
During and after divorce, you should be well-advised and ensure you have capable and compassionate legal counsel to handle your child support, child custody, and other family law matters, ranging from divorce to post-judgment support modification and enforcement actions.
What does child support cover?
The law recognizes that children have a right to support from both of their parents. However, support may not be calculated based on the combined income of the parents. Instead, one parent (named the obligor) is required to pay a percentage of his or her net income to the recipient parent. In the majority of cases, the obligor is the noncustodial parent. Consequently, the law assumes the recipient parent is already paying toward the children’s support while having physical custody. Child support orders are designed to maintain children at the same standard of living they would have had if their parents had not divorced.
State laws often dictate a precise mathematical calculation for basic child support. It is up to the court’s discretion to order obligors to pay further sums for lifestyle expenses, including:
- Tuition for private school
- Savings, tuition, and living expenses for college
- Enrichment activities (the arts, sports, travel teams, summer camp, etc.)
A court also considers the specific needs of the child in question. For instance, the court may order additional support payments to meet the expenses necessary for a child with special needs.
Many states have resources to facilitate child support payments. The courts have enforcement powers, and they can garnish wages and tax refunds or even put obligors who have the means but refuse to pay in jail. It’s not well-advised for the obligor to fall behind on child support payments, yet some do become delinquent, often for these reasons:
Retaliation against the custodial parent who interferes with the noncustodial parent’s time with the child or children. If a custodial parent violates your visitation order, the best option is to retain a child support attorney and take the custodial parent to court. This could serve as the basis for modifying a child custody order.
Financial hardship may be an issue when obligors can fall on hard times. If this happens to you, you have the right to have your child support order reevaluated. If you can show financial hardship, the court may grant a modification of your present child custody payment based on your current net income.
Contact a child support lawyer for child support disputes during and after divorce.
Whether you are paying or receiving child support, contacting a child support lawyer from a law firm like The McKinney Law Group when you have challenges to support issues could help you navigate your situation.