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Child Support: How Much is Too Much?

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By Julie Garrison

In the State of California, a noncustodial dad making $3,000 a month may have to pay nearly half of what he makes in court-ordered support for his three children. In other states, the scenario is similar.

The payment amount is based on each parent's income and the amount of time he or she spends with the children. Other factors taken into consideration are the needs of each child including health insurance, special needs, daycare and education. The income and needs of the custodial parent arefactored into the calculations in addition to the paying parent’s ability to pay and the children’s standard of living before the parents separated and divorced.

When the amount of child support a dad must pay, however, amounts to a monthly windfall for the custodial parent, it discourages shared parenting. The more the noncustodial dad sees the children, the less money the Court generally requires him to pay. This is why, in today’s scenario, aiming for equally shared parenting time is better for the children.

When a dad must work two or three jobs and incur substantial overtime simply to pay his child support order, action should be taken to alleviate that dad’s burden of providing for his kids. This can become increasingly arduous for him if he has remarried, and he and his new wife now provide for new children as well.

Another consideration arises if an ex-wife has remarried. In this instance, she is usually being at least partially supported financially by her new spouse. If her ex-husband’s child support is particularly burdensome, he may consider petitioning the Court for lowered child support payments.

There are a few steps a father can take to have his child support re-examined and possibly lowered.

Discuss: He can discuss the matter with his ex-wife and see if she would be agreeable to lowering his monthly child support payments. If the ex-wife agrees, they will need to have this change approved by a judge in order to make it enforceable and to protect that dad in the future.

Seek Modification: If the ex-wife does not agree to receiving lower child support payments, the dad must then ask the Court for a hearing to have the existing child support order modified. At this hearing, the judge will determine whether or not the amount of support may be lowered and whether it will be temporary or permanent.

Retain: A dad faced with overly burdensome child support should seriously consider retaining an attorney for assistance. The best type of attorney he can retain is a family law lawyer who specializes in fathers’ rights. There may be strategies that this attorney can use to better prove a dad’s case in court.

No dad should be forced to pay more child support than he is realistically able to afford. The Court is not in the business of forcing dads to work two or three jobs and excessive overtime hours simply to support his children. This is unfair to dads and can be detrimental to the children of divorced parents.

Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.

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