In today’s economy, it is difficult to support children based on one income. Therefore, it is important to file for child support.
The process may seem complicated and daunting. Here is a quick guide to child support payments and how they work.
However, if you feel overwhelmed by the whole thing, seek help from an advice lawyer or check your area for a free family law office. They are amazing at helping individuals fill out the necessary paperwork without need of a lawyer.
Filing for Child Support
The enforcement and calculation of child support is handled by the courts or related agencies. A judge will order reasonable child support payments based on what the non-custodial guardian makes as well as the needs of the child.
As long as there are no communication or legal issues between the parents, lawyers are not necessary for this process. One parent can file the papers with the court to get the process started.
Who Pays Support
Both parents have a duty towards their children so one parent will make the child support payments and the other will use the money to help with the children’s expenses.
Usually, the one who does not have day-to-day custody of the child will pay the support. Any marital or personal issues between parents does not affect child support – the only thing that matters is being responsible for the child.
Child support is not contingent on visitation rights. A parent may not have any parental or visitation rights and is still required by the courts to pay child support. In other words, parents do not pay to see their children. For this reason, child support is often monitored through an enforcement agency and not a judge.
As the parents, you do not get to choose how much is paid – this is calculated by the courts based on the income of the paying parent. Scheduling of payments can be written into the court documents but leniency can be given if circumstances cause a slight delay in payment.
Child support ceases as soon as the child turns 18 years of age unless state or province law specifies that support payments continue while the child is attending a post-secondary school.
Refusal to Pay Child Support
Refusing to pay child support is a crime that can be prosecuted. Because child support, and the paying of, are court ordered and refusing to do so is in contempt of an order of the court.
However, verify with state or provincial law what the specific penalties of non-payment are. It is rare for a non-paying parent to face incarceration. In most cases, the government can garnish wages, tax returns and even seize driver’s licenses if payments are not made.
As the paying parent, it is your responsibility to update the courts with any change in information such as address and place of employment. If you are the receiver of child support payments, you have the right to contact the courts or enforcement agency to report non-payments.
The Realities of Child Support Payments
I’m going to speak from experience here – and feel free to leave your own experiences in the comments!
I am a single mother that has received very little in the form of child support payments. I have dealt with the enforcement agency but their processes take time. For instance, seizure of a driver’s license involves a lengthy time of non-payment. Even then, a single “promise” payment is enough to alleviate the seizure of the license.
Another issue I’ve faced is having wages garnished, since the paying parent would leave a job before the enforcement agency could track him and his information down.
My point is that, depending on the other parent, you may have to avoid depending on a child support payment to live. If you are facing a situation similar to mine, it is best to budget your money and live within your means in order to take care of your child.