Child support is a tricky issue. It’s also one that’s different in every state. Therefore, you’ll need to take the time to familiarize yourself with the law and find someone who can help you through the legal hurdles. Naturally, there are a lot of questions that come up when it comes to child support and taking care of children after a divorce. That’s why having a dedicated lawyer on your side is always a good place to start.
Child support payments are supposed to be paid based on a schedule set by the courts. They determine the amount and how frequently it must be paid, as well as how long it will continue to be paid. Usually, child support is mandated until the child is 18 or graduates high school, but that can vary in some situations.
Of course, all this assumes an ideal world—and the world we live in is anything but ideal. There are many instances where parents get behind on payments or are required to pay more because of a change in circumstances or the cost of living, for example. In that case, many parents wonder whether they could be subject to paying a lump sum instead of regular, smaller payments.
Although the laws vary from one state to the next, there are several instances where it’s quite possible that lump-sum payments could be ordered. In some cases, they may even be ordered and taken in the form of garnishment. This ensures that the individual responsible for paying can’t say they don’t have the money.
The best thing that you can do is to hire a reputable divorce attorney that can help you with all aspects of the process, including the aftermath and trying to ensure that the children are taken care of. There may be circumstances where these payments are required by the courts, even if they aren’t requested by one of the spouses. But because of all the variables, it’s best to just have your own dedicated attorney to answer all of your case-specific questions.
Under What Circumstances Would Lump-Sum Child Support Be Paid?
The courts can order a lump-sum payment to be made to catch up on arrears, or child support payments that are behind. For example, if a parent lost their job and got behind but they are now working a better job with more income, the court may order them to pay the arrears in full by a certain date. They may also request a larger lump-sum payment that isn’t the full amount, but that helps put a dent in the past due balance much faster than a smaller weekly or other regular payment.
If there is a change in the amount of child support that was not implemented right away, a parent might find themselves behind because they weren’t paying what they should through little fault of their own. This is another instance when lump-sum payments might be ordered by the courts. You will have to talk to your lawyer so that you know what to expect in your specific case.
Is Lump-Sum Child Support Taxable?
Lump-sum payments are made from income that has already been taxed, like all child support payments. Therefore, no child support is considered taxable. It’s also not able to be deducted from your taxes, unlike alimony payments, which may be considered taxable or deductible in certain circumstances.
Parents may be able to claim a child as a dependent on their tax return. However, this can only be done by one parent, so in the case of separation or divorce, it will have to be agreed upon as to who gets to claim which children on the taxes. The courts may also dictate this if the parents can’t agree, or if there is a child support issue that could be resolved by changing the dependent claimant.
Always consult your accountant or tax attorney before filing taxes after a divorce. This will ensure that you cover everything and make the right deductions and claims, which can impact the future child support payments that you’re required to make. If your taxes show that you’re making less, after all, the courts can’t expect you to pay the same amount as you were paying before. It’s a lot of negotiation, but it’s worth it and it’s simple when you’ve got a lawyer on your side.
What if Lump-Sum Payments Aren’t Feasible?
Some parents simply can’t afford to spend a lot of money at once. Even though they love their children and they want to support them, being held accountable for a large lump-sum payment could be insurmountable, even to the most dedicated. For example, if a parent only makes $500 a week and the court wants to take a lump-sum payment to catch up arrears in the amount of $1,200, that would cost them nearly two and a half paychecks, which is a significant portion of income.
In those instances, people may be able to petition the court for payment arrangements or to be able to lower the lump-sum payment amount to something more feasible. After all, everyone wants the same thing here: for the children to get the support they deserve, both financially and otherwise. If you show the courts that you’re willing to work with them, they’ll be more likely to help you come to the right solution.
The Bottom Line
Going through a divorce is a tricky process. It can also get expensive. It’s natural to worry about things like child support payments and how they’re made. The best thing that you can do is to be honest with the courts, hold up your end of the bargain, and get a reputable lawyer who can help you navigate the process. Child support is the least that kids deserve and if lump-sum payments are deemed necessary by the courts, they may be ordered in just about any case. If you’re the parent fighting to get support, this can give you some peace of mind that your child will get what they are owed.