The process of establishing appropriate child support amounts can be both contentious and complex. If you’re seeking assistance with Mesa child support determination, there are several things you should know that a qualified child support lawyer could help you identify and understand.
How Is Child Support Determined in Mesa?
Child support is determined using a calculator. The process starts with someone filing a petition to either establish custody and child support, establish paternity and child support, or a petition for divorce and child support. Either the parents or a judge will determine the conditions of child support following that. The other possibility is that the state files to establish child support if one parent is receiving state benefits on behalf of the child.
Certain factors are “nondiscretionary” and will always go into the child support determination, such as each parent’s respective income and whether they have other children from a previous marriage, subject to a different court order, or with their current spouse. Whether or not one parent pays spousal maintenance or alimony to the other parent, and the ages of the children are also a factor in the child support calculator.
Then there are discretionary factors, which means they may be considered in the child support award, but not always. Those factors include the amount of money paid for medical, dental, and vision insurance on behalf of the children. Childcare cost for those children is also a discretionary factor. Extra educational expenses paid, such as tutoring or extra classes, are further discretionary factors that could be considered in the context of child support.
Are There Provisions Ensuring Fairness?
Unfortunately, there are no provisions in place to ensure a fair measure of a parent’s financial situation to determine child support. The court doesn’t care about your financial situation—they’re only looking at your income. It essentially doesn’t matter what your expenses are, what credit card debt you have, or if you’re paying too much for housing. Your child will be awarded a percentage of your income regardless of how you choose to spend your money.
Determining Earning Capacity for Child Support Payments
Is you ex unemployed? Or underemployed? You can’t simply stop working and have your child support obligation go away. In the event someone is not earning money through employment, they will be “imputed” or “attributed” income based on either minimum wage or their earning capacity.
A person’s earning capacity as it pertains to child support is determined through various kinds of evidence. Imputation of income can have a massive difference on the amount of child support that you would receive—or pay—over the lifetime of your children. Hundreds of thousands of dollars could be at stake.
In order to prove that you’re ex is underemployed, evidence would need to be presented, such as past employment records, proof of actual income like bank statements, or purchase histories like credit card statements to show how much money is actually being spent each month. You may also secure a vocational analysis in order to get an expert to offer an opinion on what actual earning capacity is for any given parent. These can also be used in situations where spousal maintenance or alimony is at issue.
Is Earning Capacity Calculated Based on Gross or Net Income?
Earning capacity and income is calculated based on gross income, which means income from all sources. However, overtime is not always considered in a child support calculator, although sometimes if it is for positions that typically work overtime, like nurses, firefighters, or police officers, it can be included.
Receiving Support Before the End of a Case
You can pay or receive child support before a final settlement or court date in your case by securing a temporary child support order. You can file a motion for temporary orders when there is a pending petition for paternity, child custody, divorce, or child support modification.
Working with a Qualified Attorney to Determine Child Support Obligations in Mesa
If you don’t think your child support situation has been properly assessed, you may need to go see an attorney who can give you a second opinion or tell you if there’s anything you can do differently with the situation. To schedule an initial consultation with our team about Mesa child support determinations, call today.