Legal Tips and Resources
As soon as the court decides the child support order, the parent who does not have custody is usually the one who makes payments to the custodial parent on a scheduled basis. Non-custodial parents may want to know how their money is being used, but the custodial parent is not required to document how the money is spent. In general, child support is intended to help pay for the child’s necessary living costs, including things like food, shelter, education and medical care. While the goal of child support is to cover these expenses, there is often more to taking care of a child besides basic needs.
Q: How are child support amounts determined?
A: The court will evaluate each parent’s income when determining how much is to be paid in child support. The overall idea of child support is to permit the child to live as comfortably as he or she was when the family had all been together. Many states calculate child support by combining both parents income, then setting a portion of that aside to go towards the child’s needs.
Other states may use a “timeshare” model, in which income level and how much time each parent spends with the child determines the amount of child support. To take this point further, even if both parents make the same amount of money, the parent who commits significantly less time to the child may be responsible for paying a larger amount in child support.
Q: Do custodial parents have to report what they are spending the money on?
A: Custodial parents are not required to submit receipts for what the child support payments are being spent on. So it is possible for the custodial parent to take advantage and use some of that money on personal things. A non-custodial parent who thinks this may be the case, may want to talk with a family law attorney Austin, TX relies on and notify the court as soon as possible. The court may not take action unless the child is being neglected or ignored by the custodial parent.
Q: What does it mean if the court orders an “add-on” expense?
A: Some state laws allow the court to add on an additional expense besides basic child needs. For instance, the non-custodial parent may have to contribute financially toward the child’s extracurricular activities or non-mandatory educational opportunities. An additional percentage of the non-custodial parent’s earnings may be ordered to the custodial parent, as a way to support the wellbeing and growth of the child even if it is not a necessary expense.
Q: What if I think the child support amount is not fair?
A: If either the custodial or non-custodial parent feels the child support amount is not fair or is being misused, he or she can submit a request to the court for a reevaluation. In most cases, the court will not accept a modification unless there is proof that the child is being mistreated, the child recently faced a serious medical injury/illness, or either parent has recently endured severe financial hardship.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at The Law Offices of Ryan S. Dougay for their insight into family law and what child support is used for.