Will I Have To Pay Child Support?
In any divorce case that involves the custody of children, their welfare takes paramount importance in the courtrooms of family law. In this week’s article, the Seminole County Divorce Attorney helps you to understand the role of child support, and for how much you can expect to be liable.
How much does it cost to raise a child? How about two children?
If you have a child already, you probably have this number on the tip of your tongue—either that, or you simply shudder to think of all of the bills that needed to be paid.
Extra food, extra clothing, lots of washing, medical and dental bills, school supplies, toys and books… then cars, gas, and insurance, college payments, and much more. The costs just keep adding up.
Many married couples struggle with the financial and logistical challenges of raising their children. The challenge only doubles when a parent is faced with the difficulties of maintaining a good life for their children after a divorce.
When you think about the costs of raising a child, it only makes sense that, if you have children from your marriage, you probably have to pay child support.
The courts prioritize the wellbeing of the children of a divorcing couple, and so they have determined that regardless of most circumstances, children have the right to be supported by both parents.
Family law cases—particularly contentious cases with young children involved– demands close attention to the appropriate division of financial child support in the marital settlement agreement. Though both parents must support the children, the payments are determined by the comparative incomes and expenses incurred by each person, and allocated appropriate to their legal earning capacity.
What factors does the court consider in allocating child support payments?
When child support is an issue in a court case, the divorcing parents must file and exchange financial affidavits verifying their individual income and expenses, and complete a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. The courts estimate the monthly costs that would be spent on the children if the family were still united. After determining the total, the payments are then divided between the parents based on their respective incomes and other parental factors, including:
- How many overnights will each parent have the children? If the parent who is not granted primary custody of the children still has more than 40% of the overnights in a year with the child, then that parent’s financial obligation is usually reduced.
- Day care expenses
- Provision of medical and dental insurance
- Uninsured medical payments
In the eyes of the court, your income includes everything from regular wages to commissions, bonuses, alimony, interest-based income streams, worker’s compensation, and pension or retirement benefits.
The court will, however, deduct certain expenses in determining the child support payments:
- Income tax payments
- Health insurance premiums
- Mandatory union dues
- Retirement, Social Security, and Medicare payments
- Court-ordered child support payments from other relationships.
Won’t my child support payments support my ex-spouse too?
When some couples go through the process of assessing child support and child custody arrangements, the concern arises that the child support payments will be misused. They worry that child support is really just a form of alimony—that they will still be supporting the person they are divorcing.
While there is no way to specify exactly how the money is spent, child support payments are paid for the care and lifestyle of the children. This may include anything from groceries, rent, and utilities to clothing, school supplies, and daycare. You can’t guarantee that the money won’t assist your ex-spouse, but it is your legal obligation to provide monetary support for your children, even if you don’t have custody.
If you are concerned about the well-being of your children and whether your child support payments are actually used to benefit them, talk to a family law attorney in your area and ask them about your options for pursuing more accountability or a different custody arrangement.