10 Child Support Questions and Answers

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The objective of an order of child support is to ensure that the child is properly taken care of and his or her needs are met. It is not intended to punish the non-custodial parent nor to benefit the custodial parent.

1. Why do I have to pay child support?
Typically, the parent who does not have custody of the child pays support to the parent who has custody of the child, since that parent is responsible for food, clothing, health and dental insurance, lodging, and so forth. Child support is based on the income of both parents as well as the age of the child and his or her needs.

2. What if I don’t pay what I’m supposed to?
An order to pay child support is a legally binding court order and there are penalties for failure to comply, which can include license suspensions and/or jail time. If you have a child, it isn’t unreasonable to expect you to help rear him or her.

3. Does child support affect my visitation rights?
You are entitled to visitation rights per the child custody agreement; the status of your child support does not affect the visitation to which you are entitled.

4. What if I move or lose my job?
If you lose your job, you should notify the court immediately if your payments are made through them. If you used an attorney for your divorce, you can contact him or her. Child support payments are due whether you are employed or not. Refusing to maintain employment will not nullify your responsibility to make your child support payments.If you move out of state, you are still responsible for making your payments

5. How are my payments made?
Child support payments can be made either directly to the custodial parent or through the court. Individual circumstances will determine how your payments will be made. No matter how you pay, be sure to keep a copy of each payment and when and how it was made, even if it goes through the court. Things happen. There may be a situation wherein you need to prove that you’ve made the payments so keeping an accurate record is essential.

6. How do I know the money I send is going to the child’s needs and not for the custodial parent’s lifestyle?

If you suspect that the custodial parent is using the child support money for his or her own use, you can report that to the state. The child protection authorities can investigate the matter to ascertain where the money is going. It’s best not to confront the custodial parent directly about the matter.

7. What if the custodial parent and I aren’t and weren’t married?
Child support is strictly for the benefit of the child and marital status is irrelevant.

8. How long does the order for child support last?
Usually, child support is paid monthly until the child reaches 18 years of age. There are exceptions, but this is standard.

9. Am I liable for extra expenses?
You are liable for the amount ordered by the court for child support. If there are extra expenses, hopefully you and the custodial parent can reach an agreement regarding payment of the extras. However, you are not usually liable for any amount not specified in the support order.

10. Is child support tax deductible?
Child support is not tax deductible. However, it should be specified in the support order who gets the deduction for income tax purposes. Ask your tax preparer this question.