Child support is a monetary payment typically paid monthly by the non-physical custodial parent to the physical custodial parent for the child's daily needs. Child support provides financial assistance for necessary costs related to the child's shelter, food, clothing, medical expenses and educational costs. Child support laws ensure that parents take financial responsibility for their children, even after their marriage has ended. They also apply to unmarried parents. One parent may initiate legal proceedings to seek child support from the other parent in order to provide for a shared child or children.
There are two ways that child support may be determined. Spouses may reach their own agreement regarding the amount and duration of child support in the event of a divorce or
separation, subject to court review and approval. If they cannot reach their own agreement through negotiation or mediation, the court will intervene. Each state has its own manner in which child support is calculated. Generally speaking, however, it will be calculated based off a set formula. When a court orders child support, the non-custodial parent will most likely be responsible for making payments until the child turns 18. In some cases, these payments may continue until the child is 19, or for an extended length of time if the child has special needs or disabilities. Continued support may also apply to meet a child's educational needs.
Basic child support may be calculated by combining the total gross income of both parents and then multiplying that total by a percentage. This percentage depends upon the total number of children, both inside and outside of the marriage, that the non-custodial parent is paying child support for. This percentage also varies by jurisdiction and a child's special needs. When a court determines child support, the primary goal will be to make the decision that is in the best interests of the child.
Will I be required to pay child support?
Determining whether you may be required to pay or will be entitled to receive child support will vary depending on the specific circumstances surrounding your case. Due to the fact that divorce and separation are complex undertakings and that determining child support may only further complicate matters, you may wish to consider involving a family law attorney to handle your case. Learn more about child support and all other key areas of family law by reviewing the information on this site, or conduct a search for a family lawyer near you.
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