Child support is money paid from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help support the children while the children are in the custodial parent’s care. Child support calculations take into consideration both parents’ income, health insurance for the child, child care expenses, and can take into account extracurricular expenses and extraordinary expenses of the child such as tutoring or specialized healthcare needs. Support ordered for other children and support for certain qualified children in your home can also be considered.
Calculating Parties’ Incomes
For child support purposes, a parents’ income includes all of his or her income. This includes bonuses, commissions, overtime, unemployment benefits, rental income, and income from self-employment, among other sources. If you do not know how much the other parent earns, an attorney can help you find out this information through the discovery process. If a party is unemployed or underemployed, or his or her income is primarily received in cash and not well-document, that party’s income can be imputed by the Court to what his or her reasonable earning capacity is. It is important to have an attorney assist you in child support actions especially if you or the opposing party are not salaried, receive additional compensation above your salary, receive variable pay per pay period, or are unemployed, underemployed or paid in cash. Miscalculations of income or improperly imputed income are common in these situations and have long-term implications on how much child support you will be paying or receiving.
Deviations (Reductions) in Child Support
Child support can be reduced by certain types of deviations. A parenting time deviation allows for a non-custodial parent who has more parenting time than a traditional non-custodial schedule to pay less child support so that he or she can support the children during the extra time the children are in his or her care. A travel deviation allows for a non-custodial parent who incurs significant travel expenses necessary to exercise parenting time to pay less child support so he or she can cover those travel expenses. Additional deviations may be available based on the needs and circumstances of the children or parties.
Child Support in Joint Physical Custody Cases
Where the parties share parenting time on a 50/50 schedule, the presumptive child support obligation is for the higher earning parent to pay child support to the lower earning parent. This support obligation is often reduced by a parenting time deviation. In cases where the parties’ incomes are similar and they share time equally, the Court may order that neither party pay child support to the other.
Income Deduction Order
Child support may be paid by an Income Deduction Order (IDO). When an IDO is in place, instead of child support being paid directly from one party to the other, support is deducted from the paying party’s paycheck and distributed through the Family Support Registry to the receiving party. Either party may request that the Court implement an IDO.
Health Insurance, Uninsured Medical Expenses, and Life Insurance
Issues collaterally related to child support may also be addressed in a child support action. The Court may order which parent will be responsible for ensuring the children have health insurance and set provisions for if insurance is not reasonably available through one parent’s work. Parties usually share responsibility for out-of-pocket medical expenses, which are frequently split 50/50 or in proportion to the parties’ incomes. In some cases, a parent may be ordered to maintain life insurance coverage in an amount sufficient to cover his or her child support obligation.
Seeking Legal Help
The Ruthenberg-Marshall Law Firm can assist you in paying or receiving the right amount of child support, particularly in cases where one of the party’s incomes is not straightforward or the children have significant expenses.
For help with your child support action, you can schedule a Legal Clarity Session with The Ruthenberg-Marshall Law Firm by calling 678-435-9069 or contacting us here.