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Child Support Lawyer

According to the American legal system, both biological parents are equally liable for providing for a child’s needs and financially contributing to their upbringing. When parents separate, the court issues an order directing the non-custodial parent to financially support the custodial parent for the upbringing of their child or children which is known as child support. Child support litigations can be tightly contested in courts and hiring a family law attorney is beneficial to understanding the complex legal landscape and avoiding being bullied by the other party.

Here are the factors that impact the value and nature of a child support litigation:

Child Support Calculations

Child support laws vary from state to state and there is no federal ruling that dictates how child support is calculated. Irrespective of the region, child support is calculated keeping the best interests of the child or children in mind. However, certain factors that universally impact the amount paid under child support. The factors are:

  • Net income of a parent
  • The time children spend with each of their parents
  • Needs, ages, and the number of children. Necessities such as health insurance, special needs, education, daycare, etc. are taken into account
  • Pre-nuptials or post-nuptials, if any
  • Standard of living before divorce or separation
  • Each parent’s income potential and payment ability

While child support calculations vary from state to state, there are three basic models that every state across the United States follow –

  •  Flat Percentage: Under this model, the non-custodial parent is liable to pay a flat percentage of their income
  • Income Share: This model considers the income earned by both parents to calculate the support to be paid
  • Melson Formula: The model considers an array of factors that include the time spent with each parent, the income of parents, and children’s needs.

Not All Expenses Are Considered While Calculating Support

In most instances, guidelines only focus on the parents’ take-home salaries for the calculation of support. Other expenses such as health insurance and daycare costs may not be considered by the court. However, a parent paying mortgages and credit card bills out of their price range would still be obliged to pay for support.

Child Support Duration

The duration for paying child support varies subtly from state to state. A rule of thumb that is followed in every state is that a parent can stop paying the support either when their child graduates the high school or reaches the age of 18, whichever comes first. A parent needs to explicitly inform the Office of Child support in case the payment is automatically being deducted from their accounts, otherwise, the deductions can continue well beyond the aforementioned conditions are met. Child support can also continue beyond these conditions if a child has special needs to needs support to pay the fees for college or universities. The continuation of support for colleges and universities is allowed by only certain states while courts make special exceptions for parents who take custody of their child with special needs.

Child Support Order Is Subject to Modification until Termination

Parents can appeal in court for the modification of a child support order. The parents seeking a modification in the order should have enough evidence to prove that the change is significant enough. Some circumstances considered by courts for modification of child support orders are:

  •  If a parent loses their ability to pay or incurs loses
  • If the child develops a medical condition that requires expensive treatment
  • If a parent gets a raise in their salary or is promoted

The modifications can be implemented only through a court order even in the case when there is a mutual agreement between both the parents. If it is done without an order, the paying parent is at risk of being sued by the receiving parent for unpaid support.

Failure to Pay Child Support Can Have Grave Legal Consequences

A parent is legally obliged to pay for child support unless explicitly exempted by a court. Even if a parent is unemployed, they are liable to pay a minimum amount in child support. Non-payment of child support can lead to the following legal actions:

  • Withholding of unemployment and other governmental benefits
  • Tarnished credit history
  • Interests on late child support payments
  • Limited or no tax benefits
  • Jail time

Because states have the authority to exercise power on the obligor party, the chances of the implementation of these orders are high.

Why Hire a Family Law Attorney?

Hiring an expert child support attorney can benefit parents in the following ways:

  • Even in case both the parents are on the same page when it comes to child support, they are still required to file paperwork accurately and get their agreement memorialized by the court. A family law attorney ensures the legal paperwork is filed accurately and that there is no discrepancy in the process from either side.
  • Child support laws vary from state to state and with an expert family law attorney, a parent can ensure they are following the rules and are aware of the different rules and regulation prevalent in the state
  • A child support lawyer ensures that their client is not bullied by the other party into paying exorbitant support
  • Family law attorneys have an in-depth knowledge of all the legal procedures at their client’s disposal and know when and how to use each of their client’s advantage
  • They are also equipped to carry out quick and effective responses to track and enforce child support orders on individuals who may try to skip paying child support by switching jobs and addresses.

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