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What to Expect With Your Child Support Obligation

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If you are the divorcing parents of a child under the age of 18, the issue of child support will very likely be a part of your divorce agreement. Only when the parents agree to shared (also called 50/50 parenting) custody does there exist the possibility that child support will not be ordered. Read on to learn more about this important issue and how this financial obligation is determined.

The Best Interests of the Child

As divorce has become more common, laws concerning minor children became more stringent. The courts decided to take a stern approach to ensuring that the most innocent of victims in domestic situations suffered as little as possible, and part of that approach resulted in laws about making sure that minor children don't suffer from a lack of financial resources as a result of divorce. This is why well-intentioned parents who protest that they don't need a child support order to be forced to do the right thing are not likely to be regarded with credibility. Child support guidelines and enforcement are federally mandated and family court judges must follow those mandates.

Who Pays & How Much

In general, the parent that does not end up with full physical custody of the child is ordered to pay child support, but the income of both parents is taken into consideration when determining the amounts. If you are curious and want to get a broad idea of the amount ahead of time, there are online child support calculators available to assist in that effort. You should understand, however, that the amount shown can vary due to several factors, such as whether or not the amount is based on gross or net income.

The amount of any previous child support orders also plays a role. For example, if you already have a child support order in place for another child, that will be taken into consideration. You can only use the ordered amount, not any voluntary financial obligations and your other obligation payments must be up to date.

Note that the parent that is responsible for paying the health insurance premium may deduct that amount from their income for calculation purposes. The issue of the minor child's health insurance is considered important enough that it has its own separate provision in the divorce agreement. One parent may be able to offer the child insurance through their employer, which could be less expensive than other options.

The calculation for the child support obligation is many-faceted, so be sure to talk to your family law attorney for more information. Resources like Urech & Livaudais PC can help.