Child support, also known as child maintenance, is the sum that the noncustodial parent must pay to the custodial parent. This sum, or amount of money, serves as a contribution for the child’s basic living expenses including food, clothes, shelter, healthcare, and education. Child support is ordered by the court and states generally do not impose child support once the child is 18 years or older.
Child Support Payments
Child support is calculated according to the formula written into your state’s law. This formula includes certain allowable deductions and combines the fathers and mothers gross income. Child support payments are due in periodic installments and the amount of the child support payment is based on several circumstances, however these can vary between states. Circumstances include:
- The child’s age
- The health needs of the child
- The educational needs of the child
- The standard of living that they child would have had if the family had stayed intact
Child support payments are required to be an amount that is reasonable and necessary to support the child and can be a percentage of the parent’s annual salary. A court can order additional payments to be made by the noncustodial parent for future medical, vacation (camp), or education costs. Legally, an individual is only responsible to support their biological children financially. Therefore, courts cannot order individuals to pay child support for a stepchild or stepchildren, unless the individual has legally adopted the stepchild or stepchildren.
When Child Support is Past Due
If you don’t pay your child support payment on time, some states can withhold a percentage of your wages and you can also be subject to penalty charges. If you don’t pay your child support on time and the court finds that you (the noncustodial parent) are able to pay child support, they can hold you in contempt of court, resulting in fines and possible jail time. If you are owed child support and it has not been paid to you on time, you can contact your Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) or the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement and ask them to get involved. In order to get help from your LCSA you will need to fill out court forms and serve the papers to the delinquent parent. Since these court forms can be complicated, ideally you would want an experienced child support attorney to assist you. The LCSA can also track down noncustodial parents that have disappeared, using the federal parent locator service. The bottom line is that the laws surrounding the enforcement of child support laws can be quite complicated, and the facts of each case are unique. It is in your best interest to contact an experienced attorney for guidance on how to best proceed with your case. Contact us today to obtain child support legal services and to get the best possible outcome for you and your children!