What is child support?
Child support is an amount of money the court orders one parent to pay the other for the purpose of providing financial support to a child or children. The goal of child support is for the parents to split the financial responsibility associated with raising kids.
Who has to pay child support?
Typically, but not always, the parent who has less time with the child will pay child support to the other parent. This occurs in situations where one parent is awarded sole physical custody, which means that the child will primarily live with them, or when parents have an unequal timeshare arrangement.
If the child does spend equal time with the parents, then in most cases, the parent with the higher income will pay support to the parent with the lower income. However, no child support may be ordered if both parents earn the same amount and spend the same amount of time with the child.
How much child support will I have to pay?
Child support calculations are fairly complicated. The amount of child support to be paid by each parent is based on the amount of time each parent spends with the child and how much they both earn. We discuss the process in more detail here.
What is child support for?
Child support is meant to cover ordinary living expenses. This includes things such as food, clothing, school expenses, and health insurance. Child support may also be used to pay for housing costs where the child lives, such as the mortgage or rent. Child support is not mean to be used for things such as childcare, unpaid medical bills, travel costs for visitation, and extracurricular activities. A party can however request the court to order these expenses to be paid.
How long do I have to keep paying child support for?
Generally, court-ordered child support obligations end when the child turns 18 years old or when they graduate from high school. If an 18-year-old is still a full-time high school student and lives with a parent, then the obligation ends when the child graduates or turns 19, whichever occurs first. Child support can also end when the child gets married or registers a domestic partnership, joins the military, is emancipated, or dies. Parents can, however, agree to support a child for a longer period voluntarily.
What can I do if the other party stops paying child support?
Luckily, there are a variety of options available for enforcing a child support order. The court can have child support taken directly out of the nonpaying party’s wages or tax returns. The party could also have their driver’s license or professional licenses revoked, certain assets seized, and the non-paying parent even be prevented from renewing their passport. They may even be responsible for paying the cost of your attorney’s fees in enforcing the order as well as having to pay additional interest on the original child support amount.
If I lose my job, do I have to keep paying child support?
If you lose your job, the amount of child support you pay should either be reduced or paused until you are able to find employment again. However, it is very important that you go back to court and ask for this relief. If you stop paying child support without the approval of the court, your child support debts will continue add up and they will not be excused. Even bankruptcy will not discharge child support debts!