What Is Child Support?

Child support is a payment by one parent (often the non­custodial parent) to the other parent for the support of their common child. (See Child Support and Visitation.) It is in the best interest of a child for both parents to be obligated to pay for the support of their child. An order for child support transfers the income/wealth from one parent to the other so that the combined incomes/wealth of both parents is available to use for the support of the child.

Is child support dischargeable in bankruptcy?

Typically, child support obligations cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. Child support obligations might include other types of support as well, such as medical bills or educational expenses for children. This means that even if all of your other debts are discharged in bankruptcy, you will still be responsible for your child support obligations.

How Does A Parent Having Custody Obtain Child Support From The Other Parent?

Child support payments can be reached by agreement between the parents or by application to court and obtaining a court order.

Can an order for maintenance or support be changed or varied?

A court may vary an order or an interim order for maintenance or support in the following situations:

  • there has been a significant change in the condition, means, needs or other circumstances of either spouse, or,
  • evidence of a substantial nature that was not available at a previous hearing has become available.

Who Can Be Offered To Pay Child Support?

A court can order either parent of a child to pay support to other parent. The court order for support is usually payable on a monthly basis. Many states now require that child support be paid by wage assignment (automatic deductions from the paycheck) whenever available, thus reducing the need for subsequent enforcement actions.

How Is The Amount Of Child Support Determined?

Federal law now requires that the amount of a child support payment be set in accordance with a guideline. Having a guideline is believed to prevent widely different amounts of child support being ordered from courtroom to courtroom. Guidelines provide an objective basis for the determination of the amount of support to be paid. As a result, most states have established formulas that are used to determine the amount of the payment from one parent to the other.

Obligor And Obligee - Which One Is Which?

The obligor is the parent that is required to pay the child support to the other parent. The obligee (obliged) is the parent who receives the payment from the other parent.

What Income Items Do Typical Formulas Consider?

The formula is based on the respective net incomes of the parents. Federal and state income taxes, Social Security and Medicare tax, health insurance, union dues and other mandatory expenses are subtracted from a parent`s gross income (that is, income from all sources including, but not limited to, wages and investments) to arrive at his/her net income.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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