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Last Updated on: 3rd August 2023, 07:46 pm
In any divorce where children are involved, the calculation of child support will be one of the most important and potentially contentious issues dealt with during the process. Though child support can be paid by either a mother or father who becomes the non-custodial parent, the majority of payments are made by fathers. Yet whoever is making child support payments, it is crucial they be calculated in a reasonable manner. In doing so, not only does the custodial parent receive the money needed to provide a reasonable standard of living for their children, but the non-custodial parent is also able to provide payments that do not adversely affect them financially. If you are in the process of getting divorced and have questions regarding the calculation of child support, here is what you should keep in mind.
Each Situation is Unique
Due to the statutes involving the calculation of child support varying among states, each situation will be unique. Thus, if you have a friend who is in a similar situation to yours who is paying a certain amount of child support per month, do not automatically assume this is what you will be paying. While the state will have certain guidelines it is required to follow, you also have options in these matters. One of the most crucial is to hire an experienced divorce attorney who can negotiate the terms of your child support payments on your behalf. Since it is likely your spouse will do all they can to have the court order as large a payment as possible, work with your attorney to arrive at a figure everyone considers to be fair.
Judges Have Discretion
While there are financial formulas judges must use in calculating child support payments, they are also given discretion to deviate from these formulas if they feel it is necessary. When this happens, it often results in the ordering of larger payments. Therefore, if you are the non-custodial parent, work closely with your lawyer to have ample evidence showing the court you can only afford child support payments up to a certain amount. If you fail to do so, you could find yourself struggling to meet your court-ordered obligations, which could only lead to more legal difficulties along the way.
Key Factors in Calculating Child Support
Along with the formula for a particular state and the discretion a judge may have to deviate from that formula, there are many other key factors that you and your attorney should take into account when child support is being discussed either in court or in mediation sessions. Some of the most important factors include not only the number of children that will require financial support, but also such things as medical expenses for any of the children, child care expenses for the custodial parent, and the type of custody arrangement you and your ex-spouse will have with the children. While you may not think the custody arrangement will greatly impact how much child support the court will order you to pay, you are wrong. For example, if you have joint custody and thus have your children with you on a regular basis for overnight visits, this could lower the amount of child support you are ordered to pay. Therefore, always rely on your experienced divorce attorney to push hard for arrangements such as these, since this could ease your financial burden regarding your support payments.
What if the Payments are Too High?
Even if you believe the initial child support payments you are ordered to pay by the court are too high, the good news is it does not have to be this way forever. Since almost all states conduct periodic reviews of how much child support non-custodial parents are paying, you can work with your attorney to get the amount changed to something you believe to be more reasonable and realistic. To do so, your attorney will need to petition the court for a modification of the child support agreement. However, this is usually done only if you can show the court there has been a significant change in your financial circumstances since the previous order was issued, such as if you have lost your job, have large medical expenses due to an illness, or other factors.
Since you of course want what is best for your children, it is natural to assume you will pay as much as you can each month to provide for them as they grow up. However, it is also crucial to not let yourself be taken advantage of by an ex-spouse who is determined to exact as much revenge on you as possible. If you are currently beginning your discussions of child support or feel you need an existing agreement modified, consult with a skilled and knowledgeable divorce attorney immediately.
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