When two parents no longer live together because of divorce, the end to a relationship, or they never actually intended to be together, one of the most important things to consider is how this change will affect their shared children. How will they be supported? How will they be provided for financially? Parents worry that child support may be incorrectly used or won’t be enough to meet their kids’ needs.
In order to make an arrangement that meets both the parents’ needs and those of their children, it may be important to talk to an experienced family attorney about child support. Child support can seem simple, but that certainly isn’t always true, and getting it wrong could cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the lives of your kids. By retaining a well-versed Mesa child support lawyer, you will have your children’s best interests represented, and you will be protected during negotiations and in the final child support order.
What Are the Basics of Child Support?
Whether two parents were once married or had children while unmarried, one must usually pay support to the other if they aren’t currently living together. Alternatively, if two parents aren’t married and one’s getting support from the State, the Department of Economic Security could secure a child support order on behalf of one parent against the other.
Either way, as defined by Arizona state law, child support is the obligation of one parent to provide support to the other on behalf of their kids. More specifically, it’s financial support that is calculated based on certain factors, including:
- Both parents’ income
- The amount of parenting time that either parent has with the children
- Costs of insuring the children
- Costs associated with childcare
- Any other children they may have
- Spousal maintenance or alimony paid by one parent to the other
- Extra education expenses associated with the children
Based on these factors, a monthly child support obligation is created and made mandatory for the paying parent. It should be noted, however, that parents can deviate from the child support guidelines depending on their specific circumstances – but NOT outside a court order. That means you cannot simply agree to a different amount without filing the proper paperwork, or you risk the massive consequences that come from unpaid child support.
Even if you have a written agreement with your former partner, you MUST file with the court. A Mesa child support attorney will walk through all of your options and when and how you should file for a modification.
How is Child Support Paid?
When it comes to establishing child support payments, the court will typically issue an income withholding order to be delivered to the employer of the person who owes support. This order mandates the employer to withhold a certain amount of the responsible person’s salary and send it to the Child Support Clearinghouse, which collects payments on behalf of the receiving parent. In other situations, a parent who owes child support might be allowed to make direct payments to the other. Typically, child support comes out of each paycheck in equal installments each month. For instance, if you have an $800 child support obligation and you get paid twice a month, $400 would come out of each paycheck.
However, as long as child support is paid in full by the end of each month, it complies with the order and is not “late” or in “arrears”. If a parent is not paying child support, the recipient can file for enforcement. Additionally, the payor may not receive a tax refund, as any refund would be redirected to the parent owed support. If you’ve been given the opportunity to take a child tax deduction, you would likely lose that ability if you owe child support.
Modifying Child Support
If you want to modify child support after that obligation’s in place, you must do so with the court while continuing to work within the current arrangement, otherwise you may end up facing massive consequences. There’s no way out of an established child support obligation, so if for some reason you can’t pay it, you have to modify it. In general, a parent may request a modification of support if their circumstances have changed to the point where the overall child support obligation would be changed by 15 percent in either direction.
For instance, if you get a promotion at work, plug the numbers into the child support calculator. If the overall number doesn’t change by more than 15 percent, there is no need to file to modify child support. To modify child support, you need information related to income, parenting time, health insurance costs, and childcare expenses. A child support lawyer at our Mesa office in Dana Park could help collect and organize this information in a way that’s conducive to your goals for modification.
How a Mesa Child Support Attorney Could Help
If you have an issue with your ex-spouse not paying child support or claiming they can’t pay what they’re obligated to provide, you may need an experienced attorney to help you enforce your order and obtain the support you’re owed. Likewise, legal counsel could provide assistance if you need help modifying a child custody order you can no longer fulfill the requirements of. To schedule an initial consultation, call a Mesa child support lawyer today.