Child Support: What really matters?

Child Support: What really matters?

Parents are legally duty-bound to provide support for their children and it is considered the right of the child to be fed, clothed, and safely cared for in a nurturing environment. While this supportive care is not always a reality, when there is a divorce or dispute with children involved, the rationale of child support is to make sure that at least the children’s basic needs like clothing, shelter and food are met. Environmental issues are also considered but under a different heading than child support. Medical care and health insurance are also in a category of their own.

Every state has their own guidelines when it comes to child support law, and though states may vary in certain areas the common goal or objective is to ensure that the children are supported by both parents. If one parent takes sole custody of the child, the other parent usually pays the custodial parent child support in a weekly or monthly amount determined by the court.

Computing child support for each parent in the case of joint custody becomes more complicated. There are two factors in determining child support in the case of joint custody.

  1. The percentage or proportion each parent has been contributing to total family income helps determine how much each parent is expected to continue to use towards raising the children of their marriage or union. Earnings or income as identified by the court could include wages, commissions, bonuses, annuities, Social Security benefits, interest, pensions, government and private retirement benefits, veteran’s benefits, and others, unique to an individual couple.
  2. Additionally, the percentage or the share of time each parent has custody of the child will help establish the outcome of the case. If the child spends more time with one parent, the judge assumes that the parent who has more time in physical custody of the child shoulders greater costs in rearing the child. For instance, if the child lives with you twenty percent of the time, chances are you have to pay child support since eighty percent of the child’s time is spent with the other parent so he or she dedicates greater financial resources to the child.

There is no precise formula on the exact amount each parent pays in child support. Each situation is unique in its own way, and as we have noted there are a variety of factors that need to be taken into consideration.

In cases where parents are not married, child support is still necessary. There are similar factors that can determine child support like whether or not the child physically lives with you, your income, time you spend with your child, and financial resources of each parent. Further, a stepparent does not have legal responsibility to his or her stepchild for financial support unless he or she adopts the child, thereby terminating legal rights and requirements of the biological parents.

As in any situation involving specific laws, legal guidelines, and court directed decisions; it is wise to consult an attorney with expertise in the areas of your concerns regarding child support.