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When you are going through a divorce, trying to navigate through the legal system can be a real challenge. You not only are battling the fact that your marriage is over, but if there is a great deal of hostility between you and your spouse, it can make this one of the most difficult times you might ever endure.
But those who suffer the most during such separations are the children. They not only deal with their parents separating, but there can be a great deal of transition related to this, including a significant change in their financial situation. They may have to move from the house to an apartment, have less resources available to them, and may even enjoy fewer new toys.
Financial Support for Your Children
If you are the custodial parent of your child – meaning that you are the one who was providing care for the child 50% of the time or more, then the court system will allocate money from the other parent to provide you with the resources to care for them. This is what is referred to as child support.
There are usually a set of standards that help determine exactly how much the parent will pay. These standards include such things as how much money that parent makes, if they have other children to support, their own personal expenses, and the expenses necessary to care for the child. This can range anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, given in monthly payments through the Arizona Support Payment Clearinghouse.
Child Support – Other Factors to be Considered
While these are the primary factors usually considered, many more things may go on with the child where one parent can be made responsible for providing financial support for the child needs. For example, if the child is involved in a sporting activity, dance class, music lesson, or some other activity that the court deems is necessary for their well-being, they can demand that the non-custodial parent pay for the activity.
Other factors include such things as medical or dental bills, daycare costs, transportation costs, educational costs, and other things necessary for the child to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In fact, a large number of activities can be included as part of the non-custodial parent’s financial responsibility.
Is Child Care Separate from Child Support?
You might have frequently heard the term child care when going through the divorce processing. It involves things necessary for the care of the child, including the basic things like food and clothing costs, educational costs, medical costs, and others like after-school activities and similar kinds of expenses.
The truth is that when you are thinking about expenses related to childcare, you are directly relating them to the support provided by the non-custodial parent. There is no separation between these two terms and child support is given to provide for child care.
What if Expenses Change After an Amount Has Been Agreed Upon?
Many parents try to figure out if their children get involved in some new activity or if expenses increase related to childcare, can they have the non-custodial parent pay for those costs? The answer is yes.
The other parent can be made financially responsible for changes that occur in the child’s life. For example, if your child is heading off to college, it may become the responsibility of the other parent to pay those expenses related to the college education, so that the child is able to attend college and have their expenses met.
However, the parent who actually has child custody rights is not allowed to determine that the other parent is responsible for paying these expenses. They can’t simply make an arbitrary decision to inform the other parent that they are all of a sudden responsible for these. This can only be done through the court.
Child Support – Reality vs. Fantasy
One mistake commonly shown in television programs which feeds into this kind of thinking is that one parent receives child support to care for the child; but some expense comes in, either medical, educational, or some other new expense, and they hand that to the non-custodial parent to pay for, claiming that it is the other parent’s responsibility to provide support for the child. That is not how this works.
The custodial parent is allocated a certain amount of money by the court, which obligates the non-custodial parent to pay in support of that child. This does not in any way require the other parent to pay for these expenses, just because they have arisen.
This is important for both parents to understand, since there are far too many custodial parents believing that the other parent is responsible for random or even regular payments that arise.
If the custodial parent passes bills of this nature to the other parent demanding that they pay them, they can be held in contempt of court for violating the court order. This is similar to a parent deciding they don’t want to allow their child to go to the non-custodial parent for visitation. You simply can’t do that!
If a situation arises where the custodial parent is demanding money to pay for childcare expenses that are not allocated in the child support order by the court, the non-custodial parent will have the right to bring this to the court’s attention; leading to sanctioning of the custodial parent. This is why it is always in your best interest to consult the court before deciding to take any further action.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.
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