Child support refers to court ordered payments, typically made by a non-custodial parent to support a child 21 years of age or younger. A parent has a legal duty to support his child financially to the best of his abilities.
Who Has to Pay Child Support?
Typically, child support is paid by one parent to the other, either after a divorce, or between two parents who were never married. Normally the non-custodial parent pays support to the parent that has sole or primary physical custody.
How is the Amount of Support to be Paid Determined?
Generally the amount of support to be paid is determined by a calculation of the total amount of income earned by the parties multiplied by a percentage based on the number of children involved. The percentage for one child is 17%, two children is 25%, three children is 29%, four children is 29% and not less than 35% for five or more children. The amount of support may be set by agreement of the parties or by the Court after a trial of the matter.
What if I Am Paying Child Support and My Income Changes?
Where a parent’s financial circumstances change through no fault of their own, a party may petition the court to modify, that is to change, the support amount. The support amount may be modified either to a higher amount or a lower amount depending on the circumstances.
Is There a Minimum Amount of Child Support Which Must be Paid?
Yes. The minimum child support order is $25.00 per month.
What is Child Support Meant For?
Child support is meant to help with the living expenses of a child. This includes things like food, diapers, personal care items, school supplies, and generally, extracurricular activities.
What Happens if I Do Not Pay My Child Support?
First of all if you cannot pay the ordered child support amount, you should file a downward modification petition with the Court so that your child support can be reduced to an amount that you are capable of paying. If you do not pay your child support, the amount that you owe will continue to accrue into what are called arrears. You will remain responsible to pay the arrears plus the current support order amount. If it is determined by the Court that you have ‘willfully’ failed to pay your child support there are a number of sanctions that can be brought against you including a sentence of six months incarceration.
Do I Have a Right to Counsel?
Yes. You always have the right to be represented in a legal proceeding. If you are accused of a ‘willful violation’ of child support and you are unable to afford an attorney, one will be provided to you free of charge by the Assigned Counsel Program.