Each parent is required under state law to support their minor children. In a divorce or paternity action an order can be obtained during pregnancy and continues until the child turns 18 and is no longer a high school student, emancipates or turns 19 whichever occurs first.
Child support is determined by a software program into which the parties respective incomes and the time share, that is the time each party has the child, are entered into the program. In addition to the parties incomes the court will enter other information with regards to the costs of health insurance, child care expenses (which are equally divided) and mandatory retirement.
Once the appropriate data is entered into the program it will calculate the appropriate level of support payable by one party to the other.
At the beginning of either a paternity action or a divorce action the parties will usually file an Order to Show Cause seeking to establish child custody, visitation and support. This is to insure that during the proceedings that the child is not left without sufficient funds for housing, room and board and other sundries.
It is also important to know that child support can be modified through out the child’s life as the situations warrants due to income fluctuations and/or the child changes residences or other changes that occur.
It is critical to note that you must file a request to obtain a support order. If you do not ask the court for an order there is no retroactivity. The court has no power to make an order unless the case is filed and a request is formally made to the court to have a child support order issued. Thus, it is vital that at the onset of any action or where any significant change of circumstances arises that the child support be set and/or recalculated as the case may be.
As parties begin either a paternity or divorce action they need some knowledge or awareness as to what their obligation for child support could be. The law deems it your duty to pay child support before any other bill that you may have including car, mortgages or other debts.
Thus, when planning for your financial future as a result of a divorce or a break up of a relationship which has resulted in a child you must have a solid idea of how much support you could be required to pay if you find yourself in a position where the other party is the primary care giver to your child. Even in true 50/50 timeshares where there is significant differences in income support can be ordered.
Additionally, it should be noted that child care costs of minor children are to be equally split in addition to child support. By way of example, if your child support is $400.00 and it costs $800.00 to watch your child in daycare, you will be required to pay an additional $400.00, that is ½ of the $800.00 charge for daycare, as and for child support to allow the other party to work, seek employment, go to school or otherwise for a total child support order of $800.00.
Thus, as you proceed to divorce or establish paternity and obtain orders for child support it is important to know, whether you are the payor or the payee, what to expect to pay or receive. That will hopefully allow you and your children to move forward through this difficult time.
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