Child Support Law

By Staff Writer

How will child support laws affect your pocketbook? To know this, it's important to see what a judge will consider when determining child support help. In most states, family divorce law stipulates that judges have flexibility in determining child support, and judges can go outside state guideline amounts depending on the specific circumstances.

How Does The Law Work?
For example, if the custodial parent earns considerably more than the other parent, or has much more substantial assets, then even if the non-custodial parent is working, he or she will pay the lesser amount. The opposite is true if it is the non-custodial parent that has the lions share of the assets, and can pay far more than the guideline amount. The judge will take into account the standard of living the family enjoyed before divorce; if it was very high, the non-custodial parent may be expected to pay much more than the guideline to achieve that standard of living for the children.

Judges also consider if the non-custodial parent has no assets, is unemployed, has health problems, or is deeply in debt. If one parent is experiencing a negative cash flow or is not earning up to his or her full potential, it will affect the guideline. The judge may decide to suspend support payments altogether until that parent gets a better job. In such a case, the judge may order the parent to recompense the family past support payments after getting an adequate job.

If the parents have decided on split custody, child support law will also suspend certain guidelines. Split custody is where children split their year between the parents' households, such as spending the school year with mom and the summers with dad. Split custody also covers arrangements whereby one child lives with mom and another child lives with dad. In all cases of split custody, the judge will carefully weigh expenses and allocate child support based on what each parent is already paying each year.