The topic of child support can become quite contentious between parents who are separating or getting divorced. When the decision is made on who will have custody of the children, the court will require questions of child support to be decided. Even if you were never married, though, it is still possible to have child support decided through legal action. Whatever your circumstances happen to be, it is definitely worthwhile to have a basic understanding of child support and how it works.
Who pays and how much?
The court generally considers a parent who has sole custody of the children to be making a substantial contribution. This leaves the other parent to contribute an equitable amount of support, typically through child support payments. The actual amount paid will be determined based on the income of the supporting parent, the income of the custodial parent and the needs of the child.
How much the non-custodial parent pays is calculated by the court, with each state utilizing different rules on how to reach the final sum. Usually this payment is made once a month in the form of money to the custodial parent, although there are others situations where the non-custodial parent may pay for things like schooling and extracurricular activities instead.
It is important to keep in mind that all forms of income will be calculated in determining child support payments. This includes social security benefits, stock dividends and trust income. During this process both parents should be prepared to disclose every bit of income you are receiving.
“It’s easy to bring personal emotions into a divorce, but it’s key when children are involved especially to handle the situation as calmly and reasonably as possible for the best interest of everyone (most particularly, children) involved.” says Attorney Paul Eagle with Eagle Law Offices, P.S. a comprehensive family law practice with over 20 years experience with all aspects of family law based out of Seattle, Washington.
Can you change the amount the court decides?
In determining the child support obligation, each parent is afforded an opportunity to present facts to adjust the basic support calculation. The courts are most flexible at the initial determination of the amount, so it is recommended to have your attorney present all applicable information as soon as possible when deciding child support payments.