Child support is one of the most important determinations in family court and these determinations can have a significant effect on everyone involved. Anytime a family case involves minor children, the family court should address the question of child support. Courts strive to reach fair determinations that will best benefit the child without overly burdening the parents. For example, a court wants to make sure that the child support is enough to cover the needs of the child, but will generally not order an amount so high that the paying parent cannot cover their own basic expenses. No matter whether you are seeking or paying child support, it is important that you are represented by an attorney who is familiar with child support law and can stand up for your rights.
How Child Support is Calculated
Courts do not have wide discretion when determining the amount of child support that must be paid in each case. In fact, the amount is generally calculated using specific guidelines that take into account the monthly income of both parents and the percentage of financial support each parent is supposed to provide. Under law, courts do have the authority to order five percent more or less than the calculated amount based on the following factors:
- Specific needs of the child, including any special needs;
- The age of the child;
- The standard of living and station in life of the child; and
- The ability to pay and financial status of both parents.
Additionally, under rare circumstances, a court may order child support outside the five percent margin, though it must provide a written explanation for why the calculated amount is inappropriate or unjust.
Enforcement and Modification
The court’s order for child support is rarely the end of the case, unfortunately. Many parents return to court numerous times regarding child support questions. For example, if one parent fails to make their child support payments as scheduled, the other parent can request that the court enforce the order through a variety of ways including contempt, sanctions, garnishments, or even criminal charges.
Additionally, one of the parents may wish to return to court to request a modification of the child support order. For example, the parent receiving support may request more based on increased needs of the child or higher income on the part of the paying parent. Conversely, the paying parent may request less due to a change in jobs or other financial difficulties. In order for a child support modification to be granted, however, you must prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances warranting the modification.
Contact an Experienced Child Support Attorney for Help Today
If you are facing a divorce with children or another type of child support battle, it is imperative that you have an experienced child support attorney representing your best interests in court. An attorney can help you present evidence of your financial situation or of a substantial change in circumstances if you are seeking a modification. Please feel free to contact a dedicated child support lawyer for help today.