Child support basics

When parents choose to divorce or break-up, it’s important to take legal steps to resolve issues related to child custody and visitation. Even in cases where parents are on good terms, having a formal child custody agreement helps provide clarity, legal protections and also affords the custodial parent the opportunity to file for child support.

In cases where parents share joint custody of a child, the parent who earns more income may still be ordered to pay child support. Additionally, for parents who were never married, a father must go through the process of establishing paternity before any action can be taken with regard to child support.

 

It’s also important to note that not all custodial parents are automatically entitled to receive child support. Determinations related to child support and the monthly support amount are determined by each parent’s income, the number of children involved, a child’s specific needs and estimated living expenses.

In some cases, parents may be able to negotiate and agree upon the terms of a child support agreement on their own. In other cases, parents may turn to a family law mediator or the family courts to establish terms related to a child support agreement. Once an agreement is finalized, an official court order is entered thereby ensuring that the terms of the agreement are legally enforceable. 

In cases where the financial standing of one or both parents change or the financial needs of a child change, the terms of a child support agreement may be modified. For example, if the parent who is paying child support loses his or her job, he or she may file a petition to modify the support amount.

Source: FindLaw.com, “The FindLaw Guide to Getting Child Support Payments,” Feb. 23, 2015

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