If you have one or more children with another person and the two of you are no longer together, one of you is likely to have primary custody of the child. The person who doesn’t have primary custody may be ordered by the court to make child support payments to the other person. There are a few things that you should know about how those payments are determined and made.
Standard Child Support Payments
In general, each state has a standard way that they determine how much a person will pay for child support. That formula varies a little bit from state to state, but there are certain important factors that remain the same from one state to the next. Those are:
- How many children there are.
- How much money both parents make.
- Debts or obligations of both parents.
- Money the child has from something such as an inheritance.
Additional Child Support
In some states and under certain circumstances, the court may look at other things when the amount of child support is being determined. For example, if the parent who is expected to pay child support recently got married or had another child, that may be a consideration. Also, if both parents share custody equally then child support may not need to be paid at all. The court may decide that each parent is meeting their obligations by caring for the child half of the time.
There are also several other questions that the court may ask. Some of those questions are:
- What are the child’s expected educational expenses?
- Does the child have unusual medical bills or special medical needs?
- Is the custodial parent in school, unemployed, or in unpaid job training?
- Does the child participate in sports, music, or other extra-curricular programs?
The answers to all of those questions and other similar questions will determine how much a parent has to pay in child support.
Making Child Support Payments
If you find that you need to make child support payments, the court will most likely have you do so once per month. That is likely to last until the child turns 18. The child support may be automatically withheld by your employer and transferred to the other parent, or you may have to actually make the payment yourself each month.
Either parent can petition the court to change the child support amount at any time. Generally, you would do that if you or the other parent changed work/income status, or if the two of you came to some agreement privately that differed from the original court ruling.
If you still have concerns about how to make your child support payments or how much you might owe if you have to pay child support, you can visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css for more information or to find your state’s child support website.