Even if you have the best intentions, sometimes a relationship simply doesn’t last. Separating is hard enough without children involved. However, if you are not awarded main custody of your kids, you may be required to pay child support. You might think you can go it alone, but that is far from true. Here are some reasons you should seek legal advice.
Understand How Payments May Effect Custody
Failure to pay your court ordered child support could have an adverse effect on your custody arrangement. A judge may determine that your failure to pay should terminate your ability to see and spend time with your kids. Visitation or shared custody agreements may be void until you make reparations. If you had any agreements about relocation rights, those might be void as well.
Understand How Failure to Pay Results in Other Penalties
If you fail to pay the court ordered amount, you could also be held in contempt of court. This could lead to fines or, even worse, jail time. Court ordered payments are not a suggestion; they are legally binding agreements that can have serious repercussions for the parent.
Understand the Payment Formula
You may think that you and your former partner can sort out how much you each need to pay. However, most courts use a formula to figure out how much you will each pay. The exact formula depends on the state in which you reside.
If the state uses income shares, the court combines both parents’ incomes. After consulting an economic table, the court determines how much it costs to raise the number of children in question. The parents then divide that total, with the non-custodial parent paying slightly more. States that use an income model only use the non-custodial parent’s income. Child support takes a flat percentage of the income.
Notify the Court
There may come a time where you cannot make your payments. You might think if you just work it out with your ex, all will be okay. While you should alert your former partner that there is a problem, you also need to alert the court. By telling the court in advance that you are having financial difficulties, you may be able to get a temporary suspension of payments. This will allow you to get back on your feet and not be in contempt of court.
If the problem is ongoing, your attorney may ask for a modification to the support. This would allow you to make smaller payments and still be adhering to the court’s orders. These modifications could be temporary or permanent depending on your situation. Of course, if your income rises to the level that it was before the modification, you should alert the court so you can fulfill your original agreement.
It is your obligation to pay child support as a responsible parent. By sending money to your children each month you are helping to give them the basic necessities every parent is responsible for: food, clothing, and shelter.