When one hears the words child support, the first thought that comes in their mind is finances. But child support not only encompasses economics but also the physical, emotional and moral support that every child deserves. The law, however, concentrates on the economic aspect.
What is Child Support?
From a legal standpoint, it is a court order that determines which parent pays, what amount, how often, and who receives the finances for the child. The circumstances encompass many scenarios which include the following.
- Two married people who have started separation or divorce proceedings.
- Unmarried parents who are separating.
- An unmarried parent who is living separately from the other parent and is now seeking financial support for the child.
How is Child Support Paid?
Child support is paid though a court ordered requirement, it is not paid directly to the parent who has custody.
At first, the payment goes to the Support Payment Clearinghouse and it is forwarded to the custodial parent. About a month later, the payment is deducted from the wages of the parent who is paying by the employer. This payment is forwarded to the Support Payment Clearinghouse.
This process is called Wage Assignment. If the payee has no employment or income through work, then the payment reverts to the Support Payment Clearinghouse. If either parent moves, they must notify the Clearinghouse within 10 days.
Under no circumstances should payments be made directly to the parent, as these payments will be considered gifts and will not be recognized as support. Since it is a court order to make payments, if the payments stop the parent takes legal proceedings to obtain reimbursement and have the payments start again. Even if access is denied, the payment is required.
Child support continues until the child is 18 or if they are attending high school until they are 19.
Facts About Average Child Support in Arizona
The average income of a father, who is not receiving support payments is $52,000 while a mother in the same circumstance has an income of $26,000. That is half the amount. Another alarming statistic is that 32% of single mothers with children live below the poverty line, but for fathers in the same circumstance it is 16%, again half.
How is the Child Support Calculated?
There is an online calculator that will calculate the amount if you enter accurate information. The calculator takes into account several aspects of your financial life, but for an estimate the following is a simplified version. To learn more about the child support calculator, click here.
Assume that your net monthly income is $2000, and you have 2 children that you are paying for. In this case, the amount will be $500. When the child reaches 12 years old, the payment per child increases. There are some allowable deductions, such as health insurance premiums and daycare. Should the financial circumstances of either parent change due to a medical issue or job loss, the amount of the child support can be adjusted accordingly.
Parenting Time and Child Support
Parenting time is coordinated to the child support payment calculator. There is an online parenting time calculator for this as well. However, often parenting time is inaccurate due to poor memory or failure to document it. Look for software programs to assist you in calculating the time, especially if your schedule is a regular one. Time is calculated by day (12 to 24 hours), half day (6 to 11 hours) and quarter day (3 to 5 hours).
In sole custody cases, the calculator will affect the support payments. However, for joint custody this seldom affects the amount of support payments significantly due to the fact that the time is already split evenly. However, every case has its own merits. Perhaps there are outstanding health issues. It is important to seek advice about the calculations inherent in the process. Why is child support with time calculations important?
- It is an attempt to be fair.
- It reflects the responsibilities of each individual parent.
- It changes to reflect changing circumstances.
- It is grounded in law.
Social Media Impacts our Responsibilities
What you voluntarily reveal on social media is in the public sphere. Everyone knows that, but do we understand the ramifications?
Coupled with this is the fact that there is very little sympathy legally or emotionally for parents who cheat on their child support. When parents brag about what they can afford on Facebook but are only paying a minimal amount for child support, legal action can be a consequence. This evidence will stand up in court as everyone watches these social media sites.
Payments in Arrears
The penalties for being behind in payments is significant. If the arrears exist from 2 months to 6 months, there is an additional charge of 25%. From 6 months to 12 months, the fine increases to 33%. Arrears beyond 12 months can be as low as 33% extra or as high as an amount to be determined by the court.
In addition, the Federal Government has the power to intercept refunds owed to the parent in arrears, as long as the payment extends beyond $500 or is late more than 3 months.
What About Declaring Bankruptcy?
Declaring bankruptcy does not relieve you from your obligation to pay child support, though it may change the amount owed in arrears.
Can a Parent Losing the Right to Visitations for not Making Payments?
The short answer is yes, but the circumstances are not usually tied to economics. If the non-custodial parent is acting in a way that puts the child in harm physically, emotionally or morally, rights can be modified. The visitations can be reduced or put under supervision.
Other Penalties for Non-Payment
Other penalties that can be enforced by the state include the following:
- Credit ratings can be impacted.
- Loss of a driver’s license or a professional license used for business may result.
- Passport applications can be denied.
- Liens can be filed, or assets may be frozen
- Bonuses, retirement funds, unemployment and workers compensation can be affected
We know how important our children are. It is our obligation as parents to provide for them so that they have the best start in life possible. By working together, being respectful of the laws and taking into consideration the wishes of our children, reasonable support payments can be arranged.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.