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When two parents end their marriage, it doesn’t mean that they are absolved of their responsibility to care for their children. In many cases, one parent will be asked to pay child support to the other to help pay for any expenses related to raising a child. Let’s take a look at how child support is calculated, what happens if it isn’t paid and how an attorney may be able to help with issues related to financially supporting a child.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
In many cases, child support is calculated based on guidelines already created by the state. These guidelines often take into account how much each parent makes, whether a parent is already caring for another child and whether the child has any special needs. For instance, if a child has health care costs that aren’t covered by insurance, it may be up to a noncustodial parent to help pay for them.
It is also possible that the parents themselves may come to an agreement as to how much child support should be paid. One option may be to simply cover costs 50/50 as they arise or otherwise divide them in a way that works for both parties. This may be preferable as it allows for flexibility as well as fewer consequences in the event that a parent isn’t able to make a payment because of a job loss or other changes in income.
What Happens if Child Support Isn’t Paid?
Under state law, a parent could be held in contempt of court regardless of the reason why it hasn’t been paid. Typically, a missed payment or two may simply result in a warning to make back payments as soon as possible. However, if an individual is thousands of dollars behind, he or she may be sent to jail.
It is also possible for any gambling winnings, state or federal tax refunds or other public assistance to be siphoned off to pay that debt. This may occur whether or not a custodial parent wants anything to happen to the other parent. In the event that an individual is truly having difficulty paying support, it may be possible to ask for a modification.
However, even if a child support modification is granted, back support may still need to be paid. In rare cases, it may be possible to have the amount forgiven or otherwise rolled into any future payments that are to be made. While many judges may be sympathetic to those who are trying to tend to their obligations, state law places a high priority on making sure support orders are followed.
How Can an Attorney Help With Child Support Matters?
If you are a parent who is owed child support and haven’t gotten paid as ordered by a judge, it may be possible to ask that the other parent be compelled to comply. If a parent does not yet have a support order, an attorney can help get one for a parent assuming that paternity has been established.
Attorneys may be of service to those who have been ordered to pay support. A mother or father who is struggling with payments may enlist the services of legal counsel to help get a modification of a current agreement. This is done when an individual experiences a significant change in income or circumstances have otherwise changed over a period of several months or years.
An attorney may help a parent who is looking to terminate a child support order. Typically, they don’t end on their own even after a child turns 18, 21 or the support period ends at some predetermined date. Instead, a parent must ask a court to terminate the order in accordance with a previous agreement with the custodial parent.
If you owe child support or are owed child support, an attorney may be an effective resource at your disposal. He or she may be able to ensure that support is paid on time or that failure to pay does not result in an individual losing his or her job or otherwise losing the ability to pay in a timely manner.