Going through a divorce is never easy, but for many couples, it’s the smart choice. Things always become a bit more complex in family law cases when children are involved, because both custody and child support must be sorted out.
Raising a child is no cheap or easy task. For some, child support payments are the only way to provide children with the food and resources they need to succeed. In 2011, a report titled “Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support” released by the U.S. Census Bureau found that of the 14.4 million American custodial parents — nearly half (48.6%) — had some form of legal or informal child support plan in place.
But before you make an agree to anything, there are some things you should know:
- Who pays child support?: All parents are legally obligated to support their dependent children to the fullest extent they can. The parent with custody typically covers day-to-day expense, but may also be entitled to support payments from the other parent. In some cases, the payments will even continue after the custodial parent remarries.
- When should you apply for child support?: While most parents apply for child support immediately after a separation or divorce, the custodial parent can technically seek out child custody lawyers and file at any time. However, in cases involving step-parents, the longer the custodial parent waits to file, the less likely a court is to order child support.
- How long do you pay child support?: Child support payments usually continue as long as the child is a dependent up until the age of 18. Some exceptions do exist. If a child has a disability, continues going to school full-time, or is unable to financially support his or herself, payments may continue after he or she turns 18.
- How much do you pay?: Setting the amount of these payments is usually determined according to the Child Support Guidelines. Each state has its own set of guidelnes, but most are based on a certain percentage of the combined income of both parents.However, after mediation with child custody attorneys, the family law judge has final authority on the amount of each payment. Overall, around $37.9 billion in child support was owed back in 2011, amounting to an average of $6,050 annually.
These matters often involve a fair amount of money, even though only about 62.3% of the money owed in child support was paid, amounting to median of around $3,770 per year. Therefore, receiving child custody legal advice from family law firms could ensure that both parents and children remain financially stable.