Understanding What Exactly is Child Support?

Child support is sometimes referred to as child maintenance. Child support is when a parent provides funding to the other parent primarily caring for the child. It is usually awarded through the courts to the other parent when a couple separates. It is set up to assist the parent that has custody of the child with everyday living, health and education expenses.

Overview of child support

Child support is usually awarded in cases involving a divorce or separation of a couple. It is not required that parents be technically married under the law in most states. Once the court determines matters involving custody (who will care for the child), the court can then structure the child support accordingly. Once the court rules on where the child will reside, it will then evaluate the non-custodial parent’s financial situation. Once the court reviews this information, a payment schedule is determined. These matters are usually handled from directly within family court.

How the process is initiated

The process involves a submission of a complaint for child support by the custodial parent. Once is it officially filed, the other party is summoned to appear in court. The person that is served is required to appear in magistrate or family court on the matter. In cases where paternity has to be established, the person can arrange to have a paternity test performed. Once the test has been completed, responsibilities involving child support obligation is handled. At this time, the order is issued. It will outline the medical expenses and child support payments required of the non-custodial parent.

Theory behind child support

The family court believes that the child should enjoy a portion of each of the parent’s income. The idea is for the child to enjoy the same lifestyle he or she had when both parents shared resources under a single household. For this reason, a percentage of the other parent’s income is awarded to the custodial parent (parent the child resides with). In cases where the non-custodial parent is wealthy, the child support will attempt to strike a balance of a similar lifestyle in the home where the child resides. This means that more resources will be required of the wealthy non-custodial parent to ensure that the child is enjoying the same comfortable living standards. The taxable income reflected on the previous year’s tax return is reviewed to arrive at the amount owed.

How payments are typically handled

Child support is usually paid via direct deposit. It is often handled through a state child support agency. When it is handled in this manner, any monies due to the government are deducted from the payment amount. The balance is then issued to the recipient of the funds. A parent can make arrangements to directly pay for certain expenses. Different states have different rules for how payments must be rendered. Some states allow the parent to pay for expenses like daycare and tuition expenses for a child directly. Medical expenses that aren’t reimbursed by the insurance carrier can be paid directly to the provider in some cases. It is up to the person paying child support to maintain payment records and receipts to ensure that they are prepared should any potential legal matters arise in the future.

Adjustments in child support during times of financial difficulty

Some parents may run into a challenging financial situation. This can cause a parent to fall behind in child support payment. For this reason, many states offer a child support modification option. This action must be filed on behalf of the one experiencing challenges where child support payments are concerned. Once the application for child support modification is filed with the court, the individual will usually receive a hearing where the new financial circumstances are reviewed. The court will then adjust the amounts to reflect the troubled parent’s financial situation, as most child support payments are income-based.

The child support is supposed to be used to meet the child’s needs. It is intended to help the custodial parent provide the necessary resources to ensure that the child is properly cared for. Strong record-keeping and avoiding cash payments to the recipient are often encouraged where child support is concerned.