Family law cases may trigger two different kinds of support payments – child support and spousal support. In a divorce, both types of support are possible. Child support can be ordered in other family law cases.
Support payments are made from one party to the other, usually on a monthly basis. Support payments can be collected by garnishment. Failure to pay when due can result in contempt of court proceedings.
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Major factors in calculating child support include the number of overnights, health insurance costs, relative income of the parents, and some education-related expenses.
Factors import for calculating child support are often not as clear as we would like. For example, a parent’s income may be hard to determine based on their status as a stay-at-home parent, or because they receive bonuses, or overtime, or are independent contractors instead of W-2 employees.
When two parents are no longer living together, they must figure out how they’ll continue to support their child(ren). Generally, one parent becomes the custodial parent, which means this is who the child(ren) will live with the majority of the time. This parent is responsible for day-to-day accountability, while the other parent gets visitation.
Because this custodial parent takes on so much of the expense, the other parent must help with child support.
Courts enforce this for a couple of reasons. First, it’s essential to keep the child(ren) in mind and how they’ll be cared for. Secondly, this keeps both parents being responsible and engaged regardless of who has primary care.
Spousal support is often called either maintenance or alimony. Spousal support is money that’s owed from one spouse to the other, above and beyond a property division. It may be temporary, or it may be permanent. It’s usually ordered in a fixed amount, for a fixed period of time. For example, a judge could order $1,000 per month for the next 5 years.
Generally speaking, spousal support is a property division, and the property being divided is a spouse’s wages. Think of it as the higher earning spouse’s future income is property to be divided. But, since it would be unfair to give the lower income earning spouse a share indefinitely, the court sets a term for payment of their share.
Failure to pay support payments can result in stiff penalties. Those penalties may include jail time or loss of your driver’s license, depending on the amount owed and reason for a failure to pay. It’s better to make arrangements than get a court involved.
We help with various support issues and would love to sit down with you and talk about your circumstances and see if there is a need for legal representation.
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