Couples divorcing in 2019 or after should keep in mind that children and child support won’t be the tax deduction they used to be. Because of that, you’ll want to work with a divorce attorney if you are seeking a divorce in 2019 and you share children with your soon to be ex spouse. Before we talk about taxes and children, we’ll take an overall look at child support.
An Overall Look at Child Support
It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot, especially in divorce cases where children are involved, but it’s not always necessarily defined. Child support is a monthly payment that parents pay to help cover the costs associated with raising a child, such as education, health care, and after-school activity costs. Just as every child is different, the amount that needs to be paid is different and will be based on the child’s needs, in addition to the ability of the parent to pay, in addition to some set legal guidelines.
Typically, the custodial parent – the parent who cares for the child most of the time – receives the child support payments. And the non-custodial parent – the parent that spends less parenting time – typically makes the payments. It is assumed that because the custodial parent is in legal charge most of the time, that they are already directly spending money on the child. A court is also able to order both parents to pay child support.
Usually, child support is paid until the child turns 18, though there are some exceptions. Exceptions include: the child marries, joins the military, or becomes self-supporting. Other times, the support may continue until the child turns 19 if the child is still in high school and lives with a parent. Support can also be extended past the age of 19 if parents agree, or if the child is unable to become self-supporting due to a disability.
Child Support Guidelines in California
While each case will be considered separately and individually, the payment amount a parent must pay is based on California’s child support guidelines and new laws that are coming into play in 2019.
There are so many additional factors that can weigh into a child support decision. Because of this, it’s advised that you work with a family law attorney that can help you get a fair amount.
In cases with special circumstances, where parents have different time-sharing arrangements than the typical, child support decisions can be difficult to determine. Examples of these special circumstances include: when the parents have equal time-sharing, but one parent has a much lower or higher percentage of income; where the child has special medical needs. In cases like these, a court will need to weigh all these special factors.
Parents are also able to pay more, if it is agreed, and also agree for one spouse to pay less. Regardless of the decision, a court will need to approve the final amount. It’s important to note that a court will always take the child’s best interest into account. This factor will always play into the decision regarding the amount of support payments, so if a couple decides to pay less, then the parents will also need to be able to prove the child’s needs will be met. Paying less support is not an option for parents who have applied for or receive public assistance. Instead, a parent who receives public assistance may agree to support payments that are at or above the amount provided by the guidelines. Additionally, the local child support services agency must also agree to the lesser amount.
How is Child Support Determined
Child support periodic installments and amounts are determined by trial courts and the amount varies between each case. Factors that contribute to the determination of child support amount and payment frequency include a child’s age, the specific health needs of a child, specific and often special educational needs and the overall standard of living that the child would have enjoyed had the family stayed together. The court will make specific decisions for child support amounts based on both the custodial and non-custodial parent’s net monthly income that they bring in as well as requiring a parent to pay a certain percentage of their annual salary. In some situations, the court may also require that a certain percentage of any annual bonuses received be submitted as child support.
The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act
Without regard to marital misconduct, the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act requires a parent to pay the reasonable amount necessary for a child’s ongoing support. Factors that contribute to this determination are a child’s financial resources that they have at their disposal, a primary caregiver’s available financial resources and the overall standard of living for the child had the marriage continued. The emotional, physical and psychological condition of the child is also carefully considered, as are specific education and/or health needs.
Other Forms of Child Support
Besides basic living expenses required for the ongoing well being of a child, additional payments to cover expenses such as future medical or dental expenses, vacations expenses, camp or extracurricular expenses and private school expenses.
Calculating Child Support Payments
To calculate what a court will want you to pay in child support, you’ll first need both parents’ net disposable income. You can work with a family law attorney to determine what can be deducted.
You’ll also need to know the following information:
- number of children who need support
- custody (time-share) arrangement
- both parents’ tax liabilities
- whether a parent is already supporting children from another relationship
- child’s health insurance expenses
- both parents’ mandatory retirement contributions and other job-related expenses, and
- all other relevant costs (health care, day care, travel, etc)
Remember that a court will require either one or both parents to contribute to the child’s health care and child care. A court also has the discretion to require additional payment for the child’s education or special needs, as well as for a parent’s travel expenses for visiting the child.
Remember that after you have calculated your child support payment, that this is just an estimate until a court reviews it and approves it. A family law attorney is a great way to ease this process, as it can be overwhelming to calculate.
You Must Pay Child Support
Every parent that is ordered to pay child support, must do so. A parent that avoids paying by refusing to work or working less very rarely gets away with it. A court can “impute” income. This means that the court will look at factors like employment history, education, and training and come up with an amount of income that a parent should be earning.
Modifications to the Amount of Child Support
Even if a child support payment has been agreed to, it can be modified. This is usually only granted if there has been a significant change in financial or time-share circumstances.
Such circumstances include: job loss, increase in income, or a shift in how much parents are spending with the child. Other reasons include: when a parent has another child with a different partner or when a parent has an extended illness or goes to jail.
When a modification request is made, the court will consider both parents’ current financial situations and time-share. Sometimes when parent’s income has decreased, that parent’s child support payment goes up due to the time-share factor. Child support payments tend to increase when a parent’s percentage of time-share decreases. A court will need to recalculate time-share amounts in addition to the changes in income.
A Family Law Attorney
But when it comes to the actual legal process of a divorce and determining child support and payment, you’ll want to work with a skilled family law attorney. There are a number of things that a family law attorney will be able to advise you on, including: child support, spousal support, marital property division, and other things. Working with a skilled attorney can help ensure you get a fair case. For advice on divorce, child custody determinations, setting up a co-parenting agreement, dividing marital property, and spousal support you need the expert law firm of Divorce Law LA. Schedule a consultation today.
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