Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Does child support take my bills into account?

Child support is calculated using the mother's income and the father's income. The amount of child support you owe will not be lowered because you have a large car payment or other debt. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Can I claim the child on my taxes if I pay support?

This depends on your child support order. Typically the court will grant the paying parent the right to claim the child every other year, if they are current in all of their child support payments. If both parents claim the child then you may have to provide a copy of the child support order showing you have the right to claim them if that's the case. The irs will determine who has the right to claim the child and make the other parent amend their return.  You should discuss this with the other parent before you file to make sure you both are not claiming the child as this may cause you both to be audited. 

Do I pay less if I have more than 1 child?

Usually, yes. If you have several children then typically you get a credit reducing the amount for each individual child. For example, you may pay $300 for one child but only $250 for each child if you have two kids. The idea is to leave enough money for the paying parent to support themselves. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Do I have to pay child support in the summer?

If your child stays with you during the summer months you may be able to suspend child support.  However, your child support order must specifically state this.  There should be a clause in the child support order called, summer abatement.  This will say something along the lines of, "Child Support is suspended each July and August when the child will reside with the Non-custodial parent". 

If you child support order does not have a summer abatement clause then child support must be paid even if the child is staying with the non-custodial parent.  Some courts argue the custodial parent is still keeping up a home for the child during the summer months even if they are not staying there.

You may consider negotiating with the custodial parent to reduce or suspend child support during the summer for the periods the child is residing with the non-custodial parent.  If the parties cannot agree you may modify the child support order to add summer abatement language. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Can I deduct clothes from child support?

A common question is can you deduct things you purchase for the child from what you owe in child support. For example, if you buy a pair of shoes for your kid can you take $50 off what you owe in child support? The answer is no. The only thing that counts as child support is money, not clothes, toys or any other items, just money. That said, the custodial parent should not expect you to pay child support and then turn around and ask you to buy food and clothing for the child. That is what the child support is for. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

How do I get visitation?

Most parent's work this out between themselves or it is spelled out in the divorce decree.  The standard for the non-paying parent is every other weekend.

If you are not getting the visitation you desire and the custodial parent is not cooperative your remedy is to get what is called a parenting plan.

A parenting plan will spell out your visitation rights.  If the custodial parent is not abiding by the parenting plan you may file contempt charges against the custodial parent so the court can force them to honor the parenting plan.

That said, the court system should always be your last resort.  It is always more efficient and cheaper to try to work out a mutually agreeable visitation schedule and to reach an agreement is also in the best interest of child as well.

However, if an agreement can't be reached then contact and attorney or the court facilitator and get a parenting plan which clearly outlines your visitation rights.

How do I Lower My Child Support?

To lower your child support you must modify your child support order.  The Division of Child Support in your state can assist you with this or you can petition the court on your own or through an attorney.

Most, if not all, Superior Courts, have facilitators offices who can assist you to modify your child support order on your own without an attorney. 

You should consider modifying the child support order whenever there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a promotion or a job loss. 

How Much Child Support will I have to Pay?

The average child support order amount is $350 per month.  Child support is typically 20%-25% of the paying parent's income.

Child Support is calculated combining the income of the mother and the father of the child.  This combined figure is used to determine a total child support figure and the paying parent is obligated to pay his or her percentage of this amount.

For example, a 4 year old child lives with his Mother.  She earns $40,000 per year.  The Child's Father earns $60,000 per year.  Their total, combined income would therefore be $100,000 per year.  Based on this figure of $100,000 the court may determine child support to be $1000 per month.  The paying parent, in this case the father, makes 60% of the income so he would pay 60% of the child support obligation or $600 in this example.

This is a simplified example as there are also deviations the court can grant, such as credits if the child spends a significant amount of time with the non-custodial parent.  Or if they paying parents has other children he is supporting he may also get a reduced amount.

But, by and large, child support is based off of the parent's income.  Parents with higher incomes pay more child support than those making less.

A parent making the median income of $50,000 per year will pay roughly $600 in child support for 1 child.  The same parent making minimum wage would pay about $150 per child.

When does Child Support Stop?

Typically child support is paid until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes last.

For example if your child turns 18 in February but will not graduate high school until June, then you would pay child support until June.

However, some states have different rules.  In New York, for example, child support continues until the age of 21.

If you are unsure of when your child support should end, read the child support order.  There should be a section regarding when the child is considered emancipated.