Parents have a legal and moral responsibility to support their children financially. Child support is the legal mechanism by which family courts can ensure that both parents provide financial resources for their children.
Child support orders aim to ensure that the financial implications of raising a child are split equally between parents, accounting for the living arrangements. It is common for one parent to take on the role of the primary caregiver and for the other to be granted visitation rights. The parent who spends less time as the child’s main caregiver is usually responsible for child support payments.
Legal child support agreements are enforceable, and missed payments do not disappear. Therefore, it is important that the decision that is made reflects your child’s needs and supports you in your life after divorce or separation.
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we are dedicated to supporting women through family law matters in Indiana, Michigan, Texas, and Ohio. Our narrow focus allows us to be deeply attuned to women’s needs and the needs of their children.
The goal of our family law attorneys is to help guide women so that they can move forward with their lives feeling confident about their future. The first step is often to empower women with knowledge of their constitutional rights as a woman and mother.
Regardless of the complexity of your case and whether it requires firm mediation or fierce litigation, we have the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to help you secure the best possible outcome.
Arrange a free consultation with a child support lawyer for women at 380-212-3731.
Child support aims to ensure that both parents provide financial support for their children’s living expenses, including food, education, medical expenses, childcare, and other necessities. Both parents have a financial responsibility to their child, although the non-custodial parent typically pays child support to the custodial parent.
Child support arrangements are made between the obligee and the obligor.
Obligee: The individual receiving child support payments.
Obligor: The individual paying child support payments.
The arrangements of child support are defined by the parents and family court and outlined in a court order. Parents are expected to try and come to their own amicable agreement with the help of their attorneys, who may utilize mediation or negotiation to ensure a fair outcome.
If parents cannot come to an agreement, then the Judge will need to make a ruling on their behalf. Parents will need to attend a child support hearing where the Judge will consider the child’s best interests and what child support order would be fair and reasonable. The Judge will consider each parent’s income, whether the child has any additional needs, and how much time each parent spends with their child.
When it comes to what child support payments can be used for, the law is fairly flexible. Payments can be used to contribute towards anything that relates to the child’s upbringing, including rent or mortgage payments, food, clothing, toys, and education.
However, educational costs must be reasonable to the child’s needs. While they can include the costs of private or specialized schools, optional activities are not included. The costs of activities such as school trips, sporting leagues, and summer camps are not included in a typical child support order, and parents may need to come to a mutual agreement as to how these activities will be funded.
Parents also have a legal responsibility to ensure that their children’s medical needs are met. Therefore, they must provide medical insurance if it is available at a reasonable cost. What the court considers to be a reasonable cost varies between states. In Ohio and Michigan, a reasonable cost is considered to be 5% or less of gross weekly income. In Indiana, a reasonable cost is considered to be no more than 6%. If medical insurance is not affordable, then parents will need to find cash for any medical care that the child needs. Texas family law doesn’t specify a percentage or a fixed amount for what is considered a “reasonable cost” for medical insurance in child support cases. The determination of a reasonable cost can depend on various factors and may be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Child support orders are based on state guidelines. A child support lawyer can help you determine what a fair order would be in your case and will help you negotiate. In order to do that, both parents will need to disclose information regarding their income and their child-related expenses.
The primary considerations are the existing child custody agreement and each parent’s gross weekly income. Gross weekly income includes wages, self-employment income, bonuses, overtime, and any other form of income.
Other considerations include:
If you and your ex-spouse are unable to mediate a child support agreement, then you will need to attend a hearing so that the Judge can make a ruling on your behalf. Your child support attorney will help you prepare and will advocate on your behalf in front of the Judge.
Although specific questions vary, they will generally be based on three key factors: the income and assets of each parent, the living costs of each parent, and the child’s needs.
In order to determine how much should be ordered in child support, both parents will need to provide full disclosure regarding their income, assets, and debts.
The Judge may ask questions such as:
Both parents will also need to disclose their regular expenses along with documentation to evidence their outgoings.
The Judge may ask questions such as:
Family law decisions must be made based on the child’s best interests. Therefore, the child’s needs are a big consideration when determining child support payments.
The judge may ask questions such as:
Child support laws leave little room for interpretation and in most circumstances, child support in most states is paid until the child turns 18 but in some states such as Indiana is until 19.
However, a child support obligation can also be ended if the child is emancipated before they turn 18. Emancipation means that they no longer rely on their parents financially, for example, if they marry, go on active duty with the U.S. Military, or are no longer under the care of a parent or court-authorized agency.
A child support order may also be ended if:
An exemption to this rule is if the child is deemed physically or mentally incapacitated by the court. Incapacitation means that they are not able to be self-sufficient and therefore require further support from their parents. In this instance, child support will continue to be paid indefinitely or until it is ended by the court.
Although a child support order is legally binding, the court also allows it to be modified if the proper legal processes are followed. Whether you believe your child support order should be increased or the payments have become unmanageable, a child support lawyer can help.
Justifications for modifying child support payments vary between states. However, in Indiana and Ohio, a child support order can be reviewed every 36 months to determine whether the order is in line with current guidelines. In Indiana, if the amount of child support that would be awarded now is different by 20% or more, then it can be changed.
A child support order can be reviewed before at any time if there has been a substantial material change in circumstances. A range of circumstances can classify as a substantial material change in the context of child support modification.
Substantial material changes that focus on the child include situations where the child moves to a new living arrangement, has a change in medical insurance, or has special educational, physical, and psychological needs.
Substantial changes involving the parents’ circumstances include if the non-custodial parent loses their job, has additional children that they are financially responsible for, or receives a financial windfall. Changes involving the custodial parent can include a change in child custody or relocation.
The reasons a parent may seek to modify their child support orders can vary substantially. Common reasons for modification include the following:
Child Support is a lifeline for many mothers. Yet despite the importance of support payments to meet children’s needs, the United States Census Bureau found that in 2013 approximately 30% of Americans failed to pay child support.
If the paying parent is not paying the child support they should be, they are going against a court order. Although you have every right to take legal action, it is important not to exacerbate the situation unnecessarily. Initially, you should speak to them to understand if they have a justifiable reason for missing payments and establish if you can arrange future payments.
If speaking to them is unsuccessful, using legal action for child support enforcement may be an option for you. In most cases, hiring an attorney is the fastest and most efficient method of legal recourse. A child support lawyer can help you to recover the costs that you and your family are owed through the court system.
Child support payments do not disappear, so eventually, the obligor will need to pay you what they owe you. Even if the obligor secures a child support modification, it will not affect what they already owe you.
The courts have a range of powers at their disposal for enforcing child support or imposing penalties for unpaid payments. The courts may garnish wages directly from the parent’s paycheck to cover unpaid child support or intercept tax refunds. Other penalties include the withdrawal of driving and professional licenses, poor credit scores, inability to apply for a passport, and even jail time.
Child support and child visitation rights are two separate entities, and the failure to maintain either of these obligations is not cause to withhold the other. Simply a custodial parent cannot refuse the other parent’s visitation rights because of unpaid child support.
Visitation with parents is always in the best interests of the child unless there are compelling reasons to believe otherwise. Failure to allow a parent visitation with a child because of unpaid child support is against the law and could be punished accordingly. This is because visitation and child support are two separate court orders.
Similarly, if the custodial parent denies visitation for a different reason, this is not justification for the non-custodial parent to stop paying child support.
With professional help, other options are available to you as a parent if you don’t receive the child support you are entitled to. These options can be pursued without breaking the law and impacting the best interests of your child or children. A child support lawyer can advise you on how best to proceed to recover unpaid child support.
When children are involved in family law matters, it is essential that decisions are made based on their best interests. Even in seemingly simple cases, there is the potential for one party to be pressured into an agreement that they are not comfortable with or later come to regret.
Having an experienced child support lawyer by your side is the best way to ensure you are represented fairly and that the outcome of your child support order is the best for all parties involved. Finding the right attorney for your case can often feel daunting, so here are some key things to consider when making your choice.
Many family law firms, including Woodford Sathappan McGee, offer free consultations so that you can speak with your attorney to determine whether you feel comfortable speaking to them. This is also an opportunity for you to find out how they would handle your case so you can determine whether you share the same values.
In order to feel properly supported, it is important that you can see your attorney regularly. In addition, a local lawyer is likely to have worked with the Judge overseeing your case before and can use their understanding to your advantage. At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we have offices in Indianapolis, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Detroit and support women across Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.
Some attorneys operate largely through their assistants, and when they have a full caseload, you may not hear from them very much. At Woodford Stahappan McGee, our attorneys are personally available. We believe that family law matters require an individualized approach, and we will take the time to keep you informed and supported throughout your case.
Your attorney should first prioritize mediating a child support agreement without the need for court proceedings. This saves time and money on court costs and helps protect family dynamics. It also gives you more flexibility, allowing for more personalized arrangements.
However, your child support lawyer should also be a skilled litigator; that way, if a court hearing is required, your attorney will be able to continue to support you in the best way possible.
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, all of our family law attorneys are highly skilled in both mediation and litigation. We will always prioritize low conflict resolution but are unafraid to litigate fiercely if that’s what it takes to protect your rights and those of your children.
Child support and other family law matters are complex and require an in-depth understanding of state law. If an attorney only practices family law, then it ensures that all of their professional time is dedicated to developing skills and resources that are relevant to you.
It is common for a child support order to be issued as part of divorce proceedings. However, if the parents were never married, then a child support order can still be issued independently.
Yes. Even if the parents are not in an intimate relationship while the mother is pregnant, the father is still expected to pay at least 50% of all costs related to pregnancy, hospitalization, delivery, prenatal and postnatal care.
The cost of a child support attorney depends on the complexity of your case and whether it involves other family law matters such as child custody and property division. When you contact our law firm for a free consultation, we will let you know how much your case is likely to cost so you can make an informed decision.
Although each party is usually expected to pay their own legal fees, if there is a significant wage disparity, then the Judge may order the higher-earning spouse to cover some of their former spouse’s fees.
Child support can be collected in various ways, including a direct deposit, bank checks, or a direct deduction from the obligor’s salary.
Yes. If they are not the primary caregiver for their children, then women can pay child support. There has been an increase in mothers paying child support in recent years as more women choose to continue their careers while their child’s other parent takes over the main caregiving responsibilities.
You may owe child support payments if your husband is the primary caregiver for your children. Custodial parents are usually owed child support in order to reflect the additional time they spend with their children. At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we can help to ensure that the child support agreement is fair and reasonable.
Regardless of where the obligor lives, they are still legally required to pay child support. If they continually miss payments, then you can still seek what is owed to you by utilizing federal law.
Child support orders do not change automatically. Therefore, if the obligor loses or changes their job, then they must meet the existing order until a modification has been secured. If they secure a new job with a higher salary, for example, then this may justify a higher child support order. If they lose a job, the support payments may be lowered. In both cases a modification of order will be needed and the best way to apply for this is through an attorney who can help you document why you need the change.
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we are dedicated to helping women find the financial stability they need to move forward with their lives with confidence. We will help you establish a child support agreement that works for you and prioritizes the needs of your children.
Contact us today and arrange a free consultation with a child support lawyer for women at 380-212-3731.