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Most people never even think about child support unless they are involved in a divorce. If you are the receiver of child support, it never seems like enough, and if you are the payer, it seems like too much.
But, the way each state deals with child support can cause a lot of conflicts. It’ll help though, if you both realize that once you do get a divorce or involve the state in any way with your parenting choices, you have both lost control.
You have no choice because that is how the child support law works. If you realize this, you can avoid a lot of problems.
Child Support Laws
Child support in each state of America follows its own laws. Although these laws are slightly different, they share one thing in common, every non-custodial parent must provide financial support and health benefits for their child/children.
Financial support helps in many ways. First, when the mother/father is struggling and unable to provide 100% for their young ones, the child support payments will provide them extra cash to help cover any expenses. Expenses such as food, utility bills, medical, and clothes.
Single parents raising children can be tough, which is why it is important to have child support paid for by the non-custodial parent. Health coverage can also be very expensive, especially for children. Having good medical coverage can help offset those expenses. Many states in America have laws that make it mandatory for non-custodial parents to provide medical support for their children.
Child Support Laws and Enforcement
Some parents who are ordered to pay child support often avoid their obligations. Sorry, but these parents are what we call deadbeat parents.
A deadbeat parent is a pejorative term referring to parents who do not fulfill their parental responsibilities, especially when they evade court-ordered child support obligations or custody arrangements. They are also referred to as absentee fathers and mothers.
Most deadbeat parents do not pay child support for reasons just to spite the custodial parent. Some may be too lazy to get a job, others may be too selfish to dish out the money to pay for their responsibilities. Who knows why some parents will not take the responsibility of paying their child support dues?
Fortunately, there are laws that prosecute parents who avoid paying child support. In most states in America, you can find a child support enforcement office that will aid in enforcing non-custodial parents to pay past due child support. Some methods of enforcing child support laws are garnishment of wages, interception of tax refund checks, suspension of driver’s licenses, and jail time.
When a mother has a child and she is married, then the father is legally obligated to pay child support if they divorce. When a mother has a child outside of marriage, for her to file for financial assistance, she must first establish paternity.
Establishing paternity makes the non-custodial father legally obligated to the responsibilities of child support. If at anytime the alleged father doubts that the child is his, a genetic test would be performed to discover once and for all who the father is.
Locating a missing parent can be difficult, especially if they live in another state. Sometimes tracking the social security number of the missing parent will help to pinpoint their location. Usually, when the missing parent applies for a new job, their social security can be traced back to their location.
In order to establish paternity, the custodial parent must first locate the father.
State Law Determines Child Support
Once you go to court to get a divorce or to get a child support order, in the case of unmarried parents the amount is determined by law. In most states, they use a formula that includes both incomes and a range based on statistics for parents in that income level to determine the amount each parent pays proportionally.
Although some states have different rules, this is the most likely scenario.
For example, let’s assume one parent makes $75,000 a year and the other parent makes $25,000 a year. Next, the total child support amount that parents earning $75,000 a year together statistically spend on their kids per year is according to their charts $10,000 a year. Parent 1 would pay 2/3 of $10,000 while parent two would pay 1/3 of $10,000.
Usually, the parent with custody would collect the payment, but there are cases where custodial parents must pay non-custodial due to a big income disparity although it is rare.
Child Support is Not Taxable Income
When it comes to child support, the paying parent does not get to deduct it from their taxable income and the receiving parent does not claim it. Parents would be spending this money anyway if they were together. No parents get to write off their child’s expenses in an intact family, so they do not get to if separated.
In most cases, the courts award the tax write-off to the custodial parent while in some joint custody cases they will change the deduction year after year with one parent getting odd years and another parent getting even years. The only issue with this is that the IRS will require the non-custodial parent to get a form signed by the custodial parent to allow this to happen and will not follow court orders without that signature.
Child Support and Alimony
One thing a lot of parents who pay child support complain about is thinking their ex is spending the support money on themselves. Please, let this fight go. The law is very clear that no parent must make an accounting of the money they are spending on the kids as they consider it household money that parents would spend anyway.
As a paying parent, you should not fight with your ex about this. If you do see legitimate issues, that is something you should bring up with your lawyer, or if your family is in counseling, with a counselor. Your ex may be willing to show you their books to curb your misunderstanding. However, try to be realistic. Unless you are paying someone a full-time income, it’s not likely they’re spending that money on themselves.
Neither Parent Has The Final Word
It used to be when parents got a divorce they would agree or disagree on support. Now there is a formula and judges rarely go around that formula. The best thing to do is accept this formula because it is a lot less than what it used to be. As mentioned before most people receiving child support do not even get enough to cover daycare much less pay for getting their nails done.
The point is though, the parent getting assistance usually does not have the right to refuse the support by law, especially if that is going to cause them to need to receive any government assistance in the form of health care, food support, or housing.
Separate Money from The Relationship
It can be very hard when going through this to let go of the money issue and separate it from the relationship issues. Whether your ex is paying child support or not, never use the money to keep your kids from their parents.
As a paying parent or a parent ordered to pay support, do not use this as a wedge issue. The receiving parent honestly has no choice due to the way the laws are written. In addition, it is totally realistic that the parent providing most of the childcare and family care may not earn as much as the person who doesn’t do that. This fact is not going to change much just because a divorce happens.
The Last Word
Finally, never talk to the kids about these issues. It is simply none of their business. The parents need to grow up enough to deal with these legal issues through the law and accept the ruling of the judge.
Put the kids first and let go of this money issue. The money is for the kids, and most parents are doing that despite the myths.