Parents have the duty to support their child, which includes providing the child with clothing, food, medical and dental care, shelter, and education. This duty to support is not limited to providing only the bare necessities. The duty to support is imposed on parents when the child is born. The duty exists regardless of whether a court has ordered a parent to pay child support. The duty to support ends when any of the following occurs:
• Minority ends:
– When the child turns 18;
– When high school ends, if the child is still enrolled when he/she turns 18;
• Parent-child relationship terminated:
• Child begins active service in the armed forces;
• Child dies; or
• Marriage or remarriage of parents of the child.
Child support may continue beyond these limits for a child with a disability.
When the parents of a child no longer work together to support their child, a parent can file for a divorce (if married) or a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship (if not married). The primary parent can request four types of child support:
• Current child support is an obligation imposed on a parent to support his/her child for a period of time following the entry of a final judgment.
• Medical child support is a lump-sum payment or a series of periodic payments to cover the child’s medical expenses, including health insurance coverage.
• Retroactive child support represents funds the non-supporting parent owed to the child for past support.
• Temporary child support can be awarded until the court enters a final judgment.
Calculating current child support
the court must:
1. Determine the amount of the respondent’s income available for child support;
2. Apply the child support guidelines to the respondent’s net resources;
3. Consider any other factors that might justify deviating from the guidelines;
4. Adjust the support as appropriate.
When determining the amount of the respondent’s income, there are many factors to consider, including but not limited to:
• Wage and salary;
• If not employed, at least minimum wage should be calculated;
• If underemployed, must show it is intentional;
• Employment benefits;
• Retirement, disability, unemployment, workers’ comp benefits;
• Rental income;
• Trust distributions.
The child support guidelines are applied to the net resources of the respondent. When all of the respondent’s children who require support live in one household, the amount of child support begins at 20% of the respondent’s net resources for the first child and go up 5% for each additional child until reaching 40% of the respondent’s net resources. If there are children in different households that the respondent must support, the percentages will be adjusted accordingly. The child support guidelines are applied to the monthly net resources of the respondent up to $8,550.00. To receive more than the guidelines, a petitioner must prove the needs of the child exceed the child support and the court has discretion in considering those needs. If the child support is awarded according to the guidelines, the parent receiving child support can request a modification every three years. If the child support was an agreed amount other than guidelines, there must be a substantial change of circumstance for the child support to be modified.
The court may order the child support be paid by the respondent’s employer through a Withholding Order that is sent to the employer. The employer will then pay the child support directly to the Child Support Disbursement Unit. Child support orders can also be enforced. When an enforcement is required, judges will often award attorney’s fees to your attorney.
Calculating, collecting, and enforcing child support can be confusing and tricky. Please consider giving Tessmer Law Firm, PLLC a call to assist you with your child support issues.