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Family Law: Child Support

July 27, 2012 391 No of hits
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Family Law: Child Support

Child support is the financial obligation to a child of a parent who is not otherwise providing day to day support to the child within his or her own household. The child support obligation becomes one which is legally imposed when there is a divorce involving minor children born of the marriage, when there is an adjudication of paternity irrespective of any marital relationship between the parents, or under such other circumstances as warrant the payment of support by a parent to a non parent having custody of his or her children.

In a divorce setting, typically the parent having custody of the parties child or children receives support from the non custodial parent. In the increasingly common case of joint custody and sharing of relatively equal time with children between parents the parent with the higher income may be required to pay support to the other. Where children are born outside a marriage, paternity must be established before a support obligation is imposed upon the biological father, however this obligation may be calculated for retroactive periods which vary from state to state. Paternity and support proceedings may be instituted by a custodial parent, a custodial non parent or, if the child is receiving or has received state support benefits, by the state.

Payments of child support are usually ordered on a periodic basis, i.e. monthly. The amount of child support is usually calculated according to statutory guidelines adopted by the particular state where the support obligation is being adjudicated. States were encouraged by the federal government to adopt such guidelines to promote fairness and uniformity and as an incentive to continue receiving federal money for their state support benefit programs. Prior to the adoption of these guidelines child support amounts were often wildly discrepant even among cases involving similar incomes and the same number of dependent children. Support amounts calculated under these guidelines are usually based on the incomes of both parents with certain additional factors taken into account, such as costs of day care to a working custodial parent or health insurance premiums for the child's health care being paid by a parent. An income at least equal to minimum wage will be imputed to a voluntarily unemployed parent and income in proportion to a parent's potential earnings may be imputed where he or she is voluntarily underemployed.

In most states the duration of the legal obligation of support to a child is until age 18 or until the child finishes high school, although some states may provide for a possible limitation of support to a period of one year during high school attendance beyond age 18. It is important to note that the right to support is legally that of the child and a child who received no financial support from a parent who would have otherwise been legally obligated to provide it may themselves pursue collection for a statutorily defined period beyond their eighteenth birthday, usually one year.

Circumstances may affect the ability of the obligor parent to pay the amount of support originally established, either positively or negatively. An obligor who has fallen ill, been injured or laid off from work through no fault of his or her own may petition the court for a modification of the support amount, or in extreme cases a suspension of the obligation altogether. Likewise, an obligor parent who realizes an increase in regular income which is reasonably permanent may be ordered to begin paying an amount greater than that originally set.

The child support obligation is enforced by various means depending upon the circumstances. One way to avoid a willful non payment of support by an obligor is for the court to impose a wage withholding order upon the obligor's employer directing the withholding of earnings and payment of the amount of support over to the custodial parent or other person or agency authorized to receive it. Once an obligor has commenced a failure to pay support in the required amounts he or she is subject to the court's contempt powers and the court may implement whatever measures and sanctions within it's sound discretion it deems necessary to compel payment, including incarceration. Criminal charges for flagrant non support may be brought against a non paying obligor whose arrearage has reached a certain amount, i.e. $1000. Finally, obligors who are delinquent in support and are due a federal or state tax refund may find that the payment has been intercepted and applied to the arrearage.

Tags:   Family Law: Child Support   Family law   Child support   Divorce   Paternity   Custodial parent   Joint custody   Child support arrearages   Enforcement of child support  

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Child support is the financial obligation to a child of a parent who is not otherwise providing day to day support to the child within his or her own household. The child support obligation becomes one which is legally imposed when there is a divorce involving minor children born of the marriage,...

By: Richard Martine Created 76 months ago

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