It is a matter at the top of mind for everyone going through child custody matters. Who pays the child support? In today's modern world, where kids are born or adopted into many varying relationships, the age-old guarantee that a man pays now no longer holds true. Here's what you need to know:
Who Pays, the non-custodial parent of the child or the parent that cannot be a primary caretaker;
Amount Due, based on a formula created by the courts; And
How a Family Lawyer helps, child support will not be the only contested matter.
The parent or guardian that does not hold the child's primary residence will more than likely be responsible. The courts describe that relationship as the non-custodial parent or guardian.
Whoever the child is living with most of the time will be considered the custodial parent, but the courts can determine when custody is contested. A custody determination may also be agreed upon in a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) or if both parties mutually agree to custody terms, but is always subject to court modification.
In today's modern world, who pays child support will vary based on the type of relationship involved. In the instance of two women involved in a same-sex marriage with children, a woman would pay child support.
Relationships and marriages are no longer just between a man and a woman. They can be same-sex marriages, or perhaps no union is involved, and sometimes children are in the custody of other family members such as grandparents or aunts.
Addictions can also play a role in determining who is the custodial parent. If a mother is a drug or alcohol abuser, the father could be named the custodial parent, and the court would order the mother pay child support.
Remember, the court will always make decisions in the child's best interest, not based on if you are a man or woman; gender does not matter. Child support helps pay for the things your children need when not in your care, so do not think of it as a payment to the ex. Think of it as your parental duty to care for your child. The issue at hand is not the failure of the relationship but the safety, health, and well-being of your kids.
Other factors the court uses in determining the actual amount due include each parent's real monthly income, adjusted actual income, work-related childcare expenses, health insurance expenses, extraordinary medical expenses, and a financial statement.
The Child Support Guidelines estimate the percentage of income parents would spend on children if the parents continued living together in a relationship. Maryland's Department of Human resources provides a child support calculator to determine the estimated amount of child support due.
Court then factors in additional expenses, like health insurance costs, daycare costs, or outstanding medical fees. Generating the "total child support obligation."
The non-custodial parent is responsible for paying a percentage of the total child support obligation.
The actual amount due will vary for everyone based on the factors above, so two different people with three children may not necessarily pay the same amount of child support every month.
Sometimes there are exceptions to the calculations, as there may be a circumstance in which less than the Guideline amount paid or both parties make enough money that a judge can set the amount due based on the children's needs.
The opposite holds if both parties earn more than $15,000 in a month as the court does not need to follow the Child Support Guidelines and determines how much is due based on the children's needs. This amount increases to $30,000 a month on October 1, 2021.
Money may not be the only "payment" included in child support payments as a child support decree is not limited to direct money payments. The order often requires one party to maintain health insurance coverage for the children, daycare expenses, and round-trip transportation for visitation. Child support covers everything needed to care for a child until they mature, not just money.
What Can a Family Attorney Help with During Child Support Cases?
An advisable move to have an attorney if contesting more than just child support, such as divorce, custody, alimony, asset distribution, or the other side has retained legal counsel. A family attorney can help mediate between the parties involved in family law matters.
Matters of the heart are emotional, volatile, and can cause decisions to be made in the heat of the moment that may not be in the best interest of either party and the children.
A legal champion in family law can help you make the right decisions based on those best interests. Remember, the kids are what means the most. Their interests should be carefully looked at to ensure child support serves them.
More than likely, child support will not be the only matter at hand. The number of considerations like divorce or asset distribution along with child support can make your head spin, and an attorney will help breakdown everything into bite-sized portions to ease the confusion.
Whether or not a divorce is happening, separation, or custody, when kids are involved, it becomes paramount that they are provided for and cared for by both parents. Parents share their child's care, and when a relationship ends, their support for the child or children must continue, hence why there are child support laws now in every state.