In almost all cases of divorcing parents of minor-aged children, child support is an issue and will be a major part of the divorce decree. When all is said and done, one parent is ordered to pay a certain sum of money for the care of the child until age 18 or high school graduation (some provisions order that support be continued through the child's college years until they are about 23 or so, however). While most parents want to do what is best for their children, the issue of who pays and how much they owe can be a major source of contention. Read on to find out more about those issues.
Who Pays Child Support?
While nothing is written in stone, the parent who makes the most money is usually ordered to pay the lion's share of child support with a divorce. It is not always the custodial parent of the child that is owed child support — rather, it's based on financial issues. The income of the parents is the deciding factor in most cases. Child support is highly dependent on the median state income and regulations within the state of residence.
Full Financial Disclosures
Early on in divorce proceedings, the parties are asked to provide a load of financial documentation to their lawyers. So much about a divorce is financial — everything from marital property and debt to spousal and child support is based on finances. It might also be noted here that child support may be ordered as soon as the parties are no longer living under the same roof. Using documentation like tax returns, bank statements, and asset inventories, your lawyer should be able to ascertain who will be held responsible for child support. Almost all sources of income go into the equation:
- Income from jobs (salaries, wages, profit-sharing, tips, bonuses, commissions, etc.)
- Benefits from government sources like Social Security
- Workers compensation payments and settlements
- Rents from property holdings
- Gambling winnings
- Income from a new spouse (sometimes)
On the other hand, usually not counted are benefits like housing assistance and reimbursements for business expenses like a company car or cell phone.
Once child support is ordered, family court judges are reluctant to make changes without compelling reasons. Be sure you agree with the order whether you are the payer or the recipient, and speak to your family attorney to find out more about child support.