Child support is a financial contribution paid by the non custodial parent to the custodial parent towards the expenses of raising the children.
In most states there are precise guidelines which are followed in the determination of child support payments. Each state is different, however most states take into consideration the earned and unearned of both parents as well as the expenses associated with raising the child in their determination. Often there are complicated formulas and schedules that are used. Keep in mind that a judge has the authority to deviate from the guidelines if they determine the situation warrants it.
Unfortunately, child support is often misunderstood by the payor, who may feel that the custodial parent is not using the funds to support the child. On the other side of the equation is the custodial parent who may feel that they are barely making ends meet while the non custodial parent's lifestyle has barely changed. More often than not, they are misconceptions.
Here are some things to keep in mind about child support:
- Child support is money that is being used for the child. The payor may not be in agreement with how the funds are being used, but that isn't their decision to make. The use of child support funds is at the discretion of the custodial parent.
- Even if the custodial parent earns more than the non custodial parent, child support payments will have to be made.
- Child support often doesn't include extra curricular activities. Extra curricular activities include such things as Little League, dance lessons, music lessons etc. If possible, both parents should contribute to these in addition to the court ordered child support. Often if there are specific, known extra expenses their payment can be allocated in the divorce agreement.
- Child support is not taxable to the recipient nor is it a tax deduction to the payor.
- Always make your child support payments on time, with pride in the knowledge that you are contributing to the support of your children. There is no room in child support for bitterness or anger at your ex for either the payor or the recipient.
- It is standard in most states, and mandatory in some to have wages garnished for child support. This is nothing to be ashamed of as it is such a common occurrence that there is no longer any stigma attached to it. .
- Do not involve your children. Your children should never know the amount of support that is to be paid. Any discussion regarding support should be handled directly between the parents. Don't forget it is in the best interest of the children to keep them "out of your battles".
- If you are not getting your support payments try to work it out with your ex spouse. If that's not possible then it would be better to seek professional intervention such as an attorney or mediator. .
- Remember that you should never use your children as pawns in any dispute. If payments are not made promptly, or at all, do not deny visitation rights of your ex-spouse. Support and visitation should be kept as separate issues. While the financial aspect is important, it is equally important for the children to have the love and emotional support of both parents.
- While payment amounts are determined based upon specific guidelines, they can also be negotiated.
If you and your ex-spouse can reach a fair and amicable decision on what the payments should be, than all those involved will be happier in the long run.
Why put the determination of child support into the hands of a stranger (the judge) if you don't have to.
CONSULT AN ATTORNEY BEFORE AGREEING TO ANY CHILD SUPPORT ARRANGEMENT.
Payments will continue until whatever point in time is established in the divorce decree, usually until the children become emancipated. Essentially emancipation is an act by which parents relinquish their right to custody and are relieved of their duty to support the child. Emancipation can occur upon a child's marriage, induction into military service, by court order based on the child's best interest, as stipulated in the divorce agreement or when the child reaches an appropriate age. Appropriate age does not always mean 18. When drawing up your divorce agreement it is important to clearly state at what age or milestone (such as high school graduation, college graduation, marriage or they become self sufficient) emancipation will occur. If your children are young, you may not even consider this issue, but you should. An unclear agreement made today may haunt you in the years to come.
If you have more than one child and a child is emancipated the amount that is to be paid is recalculated according to the schedules and guidelines of your particular state.
One last thought on the subject. Keep in mind that child support is for the children. It is to keep their lifestyles the same as if you were not divorced. Children should not be victims of divorce or deprived of a normal childhood because of it.