When parents divorce, children are often placed primarily with one parent (the “custodial parent”). In these situations, the child’s noncustodial parent is responsible for making payments to the custodial parent to help provide the child with shelter, food, clothing, and other essential items.
The amount of child support a noncustodial parent must pay to a custodial parent will be based on the income of both parents and a number of other factors. It is important to understand how child support is determined and why it is necessary.
Determining the Basic Amount of Child Support
The court determines the basic amount of child support based on a formula that takes into account each parent’s income. This calculation is known as the “income percentage.” Then the court adds together each parent’s share of medical, child care, and educational expenses.
These expenses may include things like a child’s private school tuition, extracurricular activities, or college costs, among others. The custodial parent is generally required to pay these expenses unless there is a written agreement that prohibits it.
A skilled divorce & family lawyer in Miami can help you determine the correct amount of child support that is needed for your situation. They can also advise you on how to avoid paying too much and potentially violating your support order.
Reducing or Eliminating Child Support Payments for Temporary Changes in Economic Situation
When a parent changes employment, he/she can request that the court reduce the amount of child support that is due. However, there are certain limitations to this type of request. A parent who wants to lower the amount of support must be able to show that there has been a significant and permanent change in circumstances.
For example, if a father quits a job and then gets another job at a lower salary, the paying parent must be able to prove that the new job requires him/her to work additional hours or that he/she is no longer capable of working full-time.
The non-custodial parent can also ask the court to reduce or eliminate the amount of child support if they become eligible for SNAP benefits, which are designed to cover some of the costs of living for low-income families. This can be especially true if the non-custodial parent has been receiving benefits in the past or is at risk of becoming eligible for them again.
Rather than penalizing non-custodial parents for not making regular child support payments, some states have begun to experiment with ways to improve the program and encourage more cooperation from non-custodial parents. This can involve enhanced and expedited reviews of child support orders, debt-reduction planning, tying reductions in arrears to successful participation in parenting programs, or offering a range of supportive services that address barriers to employment for noncustodial parents.
While these measures can be effective, they are not always cost-effective or appropriate for every family’s circumstances. They can also disrupt existing family arrangements and make it more difficult for custodial and non-custodial parents to work out an agreement.
Mandating Cooperation with the Child Support System
While child support laws are a necessary component of most divorce and separation agreements, they can be complicated and difficult to navigate. They can also disrupt existing family arrangements and create significant financial burdens for both custodial and non-custodial families.