Before you start reading I know this will be one of the most debated articles you’ll read. It’s sure to make your blood boil regardless of what side of the fence you are sitting on. Oftentimes parents of kids who are getting divorced look upon the words used here as “support” instead of “child support” and when you do that you’re opening yourself to a whole different set of emotions to mess with your mind. Cooler minds will prevail when everyone uses both words, instead of the one alone.
After divorce or separation, both parents should commit to protecting the “best interest of their children.” One way to ensure children’s needs are met is by fulfilling child support obligations.
Child support is money remitted by the noncustodial parent to their ex to meet children’s financial needs after separation or divorce. In most cases, child support is paid to the parent with primary physical custody. This usually makes sense because the children are with them more, thus incurring a greater load of the expenses.
Child support is a puzzle that can be difficult to understand for all involved parties. Therefore, it is prudent to consult a family law lawyer to explain the child support process. There are several things you need to understand before filing a child support claim.
To start with, a custodial parent is a parent with greater physical custody of a child. This means that the parent spends the most time with the child. On the flip side, a noncustodial parent is a parent with visitation rights. This parent may not live with the child under one roof or does so on a more limited basis.
In most instances, fathers are the non-custodial parents, meaning they are expected to make child support payments to their ex-wives. However, this is not always the case. Mothers can also be non-custodial parents, meaning they can pay child support as well—the law advocates for both parents’ involvements in a child’s upbringing. A family court may grant the non-custodial parent visitation rights, or the parents may agree to co-parent without involving a court of law. It is imperative to note that even parents who have never married can be required by law to pay child support.
The primary goal of child support is for both parents to share the financial burden associated with raising a child. Child support is like financial help to the custodial parent to meet the child’s basic needs. The other parent’s income determines the amount of money to be remitted to the custodial parent. Parents have the right to file for a child support modification if they feel the current amount is beyond their reach.
As mentioned earlier, child support payments are meant for a child’s basic necessities. Custodial parents should desist from using child support money to meet their personal needs. A thin line separates the needs of a custodial parent and those of a child; thus, a conflict of interests can emerge.
A child support obligation of money is meant for basic expenses such as:
If parents are not insured, they must meet their children’s medical expenses even if they aren’t living together.
Suppose one parent has a state-of-the-art medical coverage policy. In that case, they may be required to include their children for dental care, eyeglasses, annual medical checkups, and other child medication expenses. And, thus probably wouldn’t be calculated in the child support obligation.
Parents are required to share the financial responsibility of their children’s educational expenses. Even if a child attends a public school, there are some school supplies needed to support their education. For those attending a private school, the fee is even higher. Therefore, whether a child schools in a private or public school, child support should pay educational expenses such as tuition fees, school uniform, lunch money, private tutors, and textbooks.
A child’s basic necessities are characterized by clothing, food, and shelter. Parents with physical custody can use child support money to purchase food items such as beverages, snacks, and groceries. Additionally, child support money may be used to buy clothing, including jackets, footwear, and sportswear, to mention a few. Child support is also meant for shelter-related costs such as lighting, rent, mortgage, telephone, and utility bills.
Normally, most parents will fight over this type of child support spending because it isn’t just for the enjoyment and benefit of your child. Instead, your ex-spouse gets to “partake of the fruits” that these cash payments can buy.
As the old saying goes, “Work with no play makes jack a dull boy.” Extracurricular activities play a huge role in helping kids make friends, develop problem-solving skills and emotional regulation needed for exemplary performance in school. Extracurricular activities include summer camps, sports activities, and after-school activities.
The nature of parents’ work may make it difficult for them to provide primary care to their children. In such a case, child support payments may be used to cater for childcare expenses such as babysitters, daycare services, and nannies costs. Childcare during school holidays, summer months, and spring break may also be covered by child support.
Child support guidelines dictate that children are entitled to some form of basic entertainment and cultural development. A parent’s standard of living determines the form of entertainment entitled to a child. However, a parent should also look at the reasonable cost of what they are committing to provide.
Entertainment includes access to games, computers, movie theaters, television programs, outings, camping trips, and an occasional visit to the amusement park. Nevertheless, parental guidance is needed to ensure entertainment is age-appropriate.
Children have the right to movement. Child support may be used to meet additional costs such as travel expenses. The cost of auto insurance, car finance payments, gas fees, registration, car maintenance costs, and bus fare are considered forms of travel expenses.
Besides paying for basic needs, child support coverage can cater to additional expenses under certain states’ family law. For example, Florida child support may dictate the additional amount of money the recipient parent should get from the non-custodial parent.
Courts evaluate several factors when calculating child support to pay. These factors include:
Although custodial parents aren’t required to account for how they spend child support funds, the court may request to know how funds are used, especially if their kid’s needs aren’t being properly met.
How child support funds are spent is of great importance when determining a modification of child support. The non-custodial parent may file for modification due to reduced incomes or loss of job.
Parents paying child support may find one of these methods being used to collect their payments which are processed by the state:
The state child support enforcement agencies may pay the non-custodial parent through any number of methods like:
If you’re facing financial difficulties, you can ask your family law courts commissioner or judge to hear your issues by making a motion to the court. If you know that your spouse’s ability to pay has increased you also make a motion for modification to the court. In some states, and under certain types of child support like a straight percentage, a child support agency may also be able to help directly without further court involvement.
You’ll need to provide documentation showing proof of employment, tax returns, bank statements, etc., in order to prove that there has been a change in circumstances warranting a modification. You will then need to show that it would not cause undue hardship on yourself or your dependents to modify the existing arrangement. This means that you must demonstrate that the new situation makes life more difficult than before.
It is essential to consult family law attorneys to know your financial obligation in raising your child. The financial obligation includes medical care, food, education, and other vital expenses. It is also advisable to hire a lawyer when filing for a child support claim. An advocate will help you get the child support that aligns with your child’s needs and current living standards.
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