Child Custody and Child Support
Parents who are awarded primary physical custody of their child assume the majority of responsibility for that child. They are responsible for providing a home for their child, making sure they get to school every day and pretty much take on most of the onus for the day-to-day needs of the child. In this type of custody arrangement, the court will order the noncustodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent. This money is to help the parent provide the child with the basic necessities he or she needs.
Child Support Orders
The amount of child support is calculated based on the state you live in. Some states use the income shares model, while other states use the percentage income model. Each formula uses factors such as the income of the parents and how many children they have. There may be other factors the court will use based on the circumstances of the family.
Child support orders are legal documents and failure to follow them can result in serious legal problems for the non-paying parent. The point of child support is to provide for the child and when a parent does not pay, the well-being of the child can be directly affected. The courts do not look kindly on parents who shirk their responsibilities to their children.
Where Are the Payments?
Many custodial parents rely on child support payments to help cover expenses necessary for the child. This should be perfectly reasonable because a custodial parent should expect the noncustodial parent to be just as responsible a parent as the court has ordered them to be.
When the noncustodial parent stops paying the support, it can create a financial hardship for the custodial parent, which also affects the child. If the parent should stop paying child support, the custodial parent’s first reaction may be to stop that parent’s parenting time with the child, however, this should never be done.
The court views child custody and child support as two separate issues and considers any withholding of visitation due to nonsupport as not being in the best interest of the child and the custodial parent could end up in legal trouble.
If a parent is not receiving their child support, they should take the legal steps available to get the courts to enforce the child support order. Your attorney can file a petition to hold the parent in contempt and the court could order one or more of the following punishments:
- Garnish the non-paying parent’s wages until the back child support is paid
- Suspend the non-paying parent’s driver’s license
- Suspend the non-paying parent’s state-issued professional license
- Incarcerate the non-paying parent until they pay the back child support
In many states, when back child support reaches a certain amount or the parent has not paid for a certain length of time, the state can file criminal charges against the parent. These charges are different than the incarceration of the parent until they pay the back child support mentioned above. When that happens, the parent is being held in civil contempt of court. The criminal charges a non-paying parent could face are separate. Since in many states these charges are felony charges, the parent could face a year in prison if they are convicted.
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