Article posted on: marriage.com
Child support is the duty you have to support a biological child, whether you are married to the other parent or not. Each state follows a specific set of guidelines for calculating child support.
These guidelines vary a great deal from state to state but typically rely on factors similar to those used to determine spousal support and child custody, such as:
- Each parent’s net income;
- The time the children spend with each parent;
- The number, ages, and needs of the children—including health insurance, education, day care, and special needs;
- The family’s pre-divorce standard of living; and
- Hardship factors that affect a parent’s ability to pay support.
How long must child support be paid? Child support is usually paid until the child turns 18. However, sometimes child support payments can extend beyond 18 if the child lives at home and is dependent on his or her parents.
Child support can also last through age 23 if the child is still a student. Furthermore, if a child is severely disabled, child support may be ordered to be paid through his or her entire life.
Failure to pay child support Failure to pay child support can land a parent in big trouble. A non-paying parent can face asset seizure and wage garnishment. Furthermore, because child support is a court order, a parent can be found in contempt of court, face jail time and/or lose his or her driver’s license. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act provides for interstate enforceability of child support orders across the country.
Modifying child support Like alimony, a child support order can be modified. However, there must be a substantial change in circumstances to modify an existing child support order. If for instance, a child needs tutoring because of a learning disability, a paying parent might need to pay more. On the other hand, if the payee hits the lottery, the paying parent might get a portion of that money or have to pay less child support going forward.