Child Support Issues After Divorce

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An unfortunate reality in American Society is that, even though we expect a marriage to last forever, about half of all marriages in the US will end in Divorce. Those marriages that end often include children of whom one parent will usually end up having divorce custody of child.

Child Support for Custodial Parent and Children

In the case of divorce involving children, one issue that will last a long time after the divorce has ended is children support. In most divorce cases, the non-custodial parent will almost always be ordered by the court to pay divorce child support. There are several factors that go into the child support formula to determine the amount of support to paid, but the most important is the amount of income earned by the non-custodial parent.

Changing the Child Support Amount

It is generally the rule that the amount of child support order by the court is the amount to be paid. Neither parent can legally increase or reduce this amount. However, a motion for child support modification can be filed with the court by either parent to change, or "modify", the amount of child support payments. In order for the court to hear the request, the motion must include a "change of circumstance" child support form. Essentially what this means, is the situation that the court reviewed to determine the child support tax amount in the first place is different and requires "re-review".

The two most common reasons that parents will pay reduced child support are:

  1. The non-custodial parent convinces that the amount ordered by the court is too high, and he/she cannot afford to continue paying
  2. The non-custodial parent buy clothing and gifts for the child(ren), and uses this as a reason to pay a reduced amount

What can Happen if Court Ordered Support Amount is Not Paid

Whether the custodial parent agrees with receiving a reduced child support income is generally irrelevant. Whatever amount ordered by the court to be paid as child support is what must be paid. Taking the two examples above into account, the non-custodial parent may decide that he/she now feels that reduced amount is unfair, and can rightfully file a motion of contempt of court. This means that the non-custodial parent can, at worst, be made to serve jail time until all non-paid support is paid, or at best, be made to pay all unpaid arrears.

Avoiding Situations of Contempt for Unpaid Child Support

In order to protect one’s self from legal trouble stemming from unpaid child support, any agreements regarding changes of child support should be made with the court via a motion to modify child support. Additionally, if "gifts" are given as part of child support, it's important to make sure all receipts are given to the spouse showing that it was not a "gift" but part of the required child support. Withholding child support, under any circumstances, usually only ends up hurting the child, and can lead to serious issues with the court.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice or representation,
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