Child support. Raising children is expensive. When a couple chooses not to raise their child together, it does not absolve either parent of the financial responsibilities associated with raising that child. From a legal standpoint, some amount of child support is mandatory from both parents, and failing to provide that support could result in civil and/or criminal consequences. If you are concerned about child-support calculations, a good family law attorney may be helpful.
Obtaining Child Support
There are several circumstances wherein a court may order child support. They include:
- Legal separation;
- Paternity cases.
Income Considered in Child Support Determinations
Net disposable incomes of both parents are examined when making child support determinations. The mathematical calculation used to determine the amount of support ordered by the court considers any and all income, including:
- Salary, wages or earnings from self-employment;
- Benefits from unemployment;
- Workers’ compensation benefits;
- Disability benefits;
- Social security benefits;
- Pension payouts;
- Interest or dividend payments;
- Lottery or other winnings.
Once the gross income is determined for each parent, the net disposable income is calculated by subtracting costs such as:
- Mandatory union dues;
- Health care premiums;
- Required contributions to retirement accounts;
- Costs associated with raising children from other relationships.
The court will consider other factors, including childcare costs, school expenses, health care costs, and costs associated with visitation when parents live far apart. Some of these expenses are considered add-ons and may be divided equally between parents, or contributions may be based on each person’s disposable income. Additionally, children with special needs may incur further expenses to be considered by the court.
Once the final income calculations have been made, a child support payment is calculated based on the percentage of time the child spends with each parent.
Documentation Needed for Child Support
In order to make the most accurate calculations, parents will be asked to provide a number of documents, including:
- Tax returns for the past year or two;
- Paystubs from the past few months;
- Insurance premium documentation;
- Certification of mandatory retirement contributions;
- Child support and spousal support information for other relationships;
- Receipts for child care costs;
- Other costs related to extraordinary circumstances.
What Happens to Parents Who do Not Pay Child Support?
Payment of child support is a serious business. When child support payments are not made, the consequences can be embarrassing and troublesome. Wages may be garnished, credit ratings may be impacted, and liens may be placed on property. There are additional consequences that many people do not know about: Passports may not be issued or renewed, and driver’s licenses could be revoked or suspended. The IRS could capture past due funds from tax refunds, and other government funds such as unemployment or workers’ compensation may be taken. Ultimately, criminal charges may be filed with associated fines and jail time. Continue reading →