When two parents decide to end their marriage, the living situations for both parents, as well as their children, can change dramatically and in just a small amount of time. The law firm Marshall & Taylor PLLC believes that in many cases, the parent who takes primary custody of the child may incur a number of significant costs that they may not be able to afford on their own. For this reason, many divorce settlements include child support arrangements to help the custodial parent with these costs.

Child support is one of the really challenging issues for divorcing parents. It is aimed at ensuring that the various needs of the child are met even after the spouses have separated.

Support to their child when parents decide to separate is both a legal and moral obligation. Thus, the non-custodial parent, also called the obligor, will be ordered by the court to pay a specified amount monthly or periodically (to the parent who has child custody, the child’s guardian or caregiver or to the state in the absence of all three).

In promoting and enforcing child care, the U.S.’ Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 paved the way for all states to list the factors that need to be considered when deciding child support issues, like how much financial support the non-custodial parent ought to pay monthly. Though these factors differ from state to state, the more basic ones include:

  • the parents’ present income (can be earned income, portfolio income or passive income). Income actually includes salaries, dividends, commissions, overtime pay and all other monetary form of earning.
  • custodial parent’s living expenses and the living standard of the child before the divorce.
  • the age and needs of the child and the capacity of the parents to make a contribution.

Child support is intended for the child’s basic needs: food, clothing, shelter and education. Though it is usually required by the court only until the child turns 18, the court can require additional contribution intended for the child’s other activities and interests, like medical or dental needs, vacation or camps.

Parental generosity, though, should not lead the supporting parent to just decide to increase the support or decrease it, in case of a change is his or her financial circumstances. Any decision that will directly affect the amount of support can be made only by the court which made the initial decision regarding the issue. Parents who bypass the court and decide on their own regarding child support can very well earn the court’s contempt.