Definition of Child Support

Child support payments are payments made from one parent to the other to help support the child following divorce, separation or the birth of the child when the couple is not married or together. Child support payments are generally paid from the supporting parent to the custodial parent, although all states use specific methods to calculate payment amounts.

Prior to awarding child support payments, the court will review several factors: the needs of the child, the financial situation of each parent, the child’s standard of living prior to the divorce or separation and number of children which must be supported. Although child support can be the most contentious aspect of a divorce, the courts do not generally consider the actions of either parent when calculating the child support payments.

Not Paying Child Support

Failing to pay child support is a crime. Nonpaying parents can have their child support payments garnished from their pay checks and can expect severe penalties if they do not pay. For instance, parents who refuse to pay child support may have their professional license confiscated, their income tax refunds garnished and their driver’s license suspended. In the most severe cases the parent may be sent to jail.

What do you do if you cannot pay child support? There are several valid reasons that a supporting parent may petition the court for a reduction in child support payments. For instance, if your income changes substantially, if you become disabled or you do not have work you may receive a modification. Increases from the custodial parent may also be requested. For instance, if the child suffers from a serious medical condition the custodial parent may need more money for medical care for the child.

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