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Commonly Asked Questions About Child Support

After a divorce, custody of the children is usually awarded to one parent by the court. As far as financial responsibility is concerned, the court usually requires the non-custodial parent to make child support payments. The parent who pays child support is called the “obligor,” whereas the parent who receives the payments is called the “obligee.”

The requirements and guidelines for child support payments are very specific. Therefore, it is a good idea to consult with a child support attorney in your area who is experienced and familiar with family law.

Determining the Amount of Child Support Payments

Each state has developed schedules that help determine child support payments. These schedules take into account the incomes and expenses of both parents, their daily living expenses, their education, their health expenses, and other needs. Based on their circumstances and financial situation, both parents are required to provide for their child in order to ensure a decent standard of living for the child according to their “status in life.”

For How Long Must Child Support be Paid?

The parent paying child support is required to pay for the needs of their children until they are legally adults, or until they are through their high school education. This is the general rule in most states but other states have extended these requirements even further. Child support is usually only terminated under certain circumstances, such as once the child becomes a legal adult, when the child goes on active duty, or if the child becomes emancipated or dies.

Tax Consequences of Child Support

Both child and spousal support payments have many tax implications. The receiving parent, or the obligee, does not receive child support as part of their income. Similarly, the parent who pays child support, or the obligor, cannot deduct the payments on their federal tax return. The custodial parent may be eligible to claim a child dependency exemption or child-care credit. The custodial parent may also be able to file as head of the household.

What Happens In Case of Loss of Job or Bankruptcy?

If the obligor parent loses his or her job, suffers a serious decrease in income, files for bankruptcy, or is unable to continue giving child support after an accident for example, then they may be eligible to request a child support modification. The obligor may sign an agreement with the other parent for a temporary decrease or deferment in payments. They may also seek modification from the court. In case of bankruptcy, the obligor will never be totally relieved of child support obligations.

Failure to Pay Child Support

Every parent is required to financially support their child or children. If an obligor fails to pay the required child support, they may lose their driver’s license or be sentenced to jail. In some cases, they may even lose their professional license. Even if they fail to pay the required child support, they will still be responsible for delinquent payments. If the obligor parent fails to pay child support, the obligee parent can seek enforcement of child support by contacting a government collection agency. The obligee may also ask the court to garnish wages, issue a tax refund interception, or even hold the delinquent parent in contempt of court.

In child support matters, it is advised to consult an experienced child support lawyer in your area. An attorney can help answer any questions you may have about child support. He or she will also be able to help you modify a court order or have an existing order modified.