When going through a divorce, there are several important questions you will need to answer. If there are children involved, you and your ex-spouse will need to agree to child custody arrangements. Once child custody is arranged, the matter of child support can be handled. Both parents have a legal responsibility to provide financially for the care of their child. In most cases, the parent with primary custody will receive child support from the parent who is not the primary caregiver. Whether you are the parent paying or receiving the support, there are a few things to keep in mind about the process. For starters, the judge will consider income, cost of living, and the ability of each parent to provide for the child. The judge will also consider the medical needs and health insurance costs of the child since both parents are required to provide for these aspects.

How is Income Calculated?

One of the biggest factors in determining child support is the income of each parent. The courts calculate income using documents such as paycheck stubs, income tax forms, and other self-reported income. If a parent tries to withhold or hide their income in an effort to pay a lower child support payment, they may face fines or other legal consequences. Income may also be impacted by a parent choosing not to work up to the maximum potential of their position, which may look like choosing not to work full-time on purpose to pay less in child support. In this event, a judge may order the parent to work the full potential of their position in order to compensate for the cost-of-living needs of their child.

What is Child Support Used for?

Child support funds are meant to be used to provide for the care needs of the child. The basic needs are items such as food, clothing, housing, and health insurance. Child support is also intended to cover medical (emergencies, illness, and other) and educational costs such as school supplies, lunch money, and tuition when necessary. It will also be used for childcare such as daycare, after-school care, or other childcare services. Another aspect of child support is ensuring that your child still maintains the same standard of living after the divorce to avoid trauma. If a child is used to going to summer camps or attending after-school activities (dance, karate, etc.), the courts expect this to be kept up with financially through child support.

It is important to remember that child support may be used by your ex-spouse for items other than those mentioned here. The primary custodian of a child may use the funds to pay other bills or financial needs of the child.

What Happens if I Experience a Loss of Income?

If the parent paying child support experiences an unforeseen and unintentional loss of income, such as being fired, they may be able to negotiate a lower payment for a specified amount of time until they recover. If this occurs, the parent will need a child support lawyer to help them through the process and ensure they do not violate the support order, which may come with even more financial burden through fines.