The divorce rate has dropped in the last few years, but a substantial percentage of marriages still end in divorce. The result is a large number of noncustodial parents paying court-ordered child support and co-parenting with a person they don’t live with anymore. So what do these parents need to know about child support payments and what should they look for in a child support lawyer?
The importance of both parents contributing to raising a child after a divorce is increasingly acknowledged, but that doesn’t mean bitterness and anger are no longer in play. It still exists, and it often is centered around money. However, the choices made, particularly regarding child support, should always be in the child’s best interest. Keep a few things in mind when it comes to paying child support.
Pay On Time Penalties for falling behind can be severe—garnished wages, forfeited tax returns, losing your driver’s license, and even jail time.
Keep Detailed Records Monthly payments you make should be noted in financial records, so do not make cash payments. Noncustodial parents should keep receipts or receipt images of all expenses. If it is an expense for the child, keep a record of it. These expenses may come into play if you are ever in the position of applying to modify child support.
The Payer is Not in Charge Sending your hard-earned money to an ex can be challenging. However, as a noncustodial parent, you have very little say over how the money is spent and where the money goes. The custodial parent who receives the money decides what they think it should be spent on. If you don’t agree with how the money is being spent, document the issues (in emails, letters, or notes) and discuss them with your lawyer. If you threaten to withhold payment for any reason, it is illegal and will likely end poorly.
Keep the Children Out of the Conflicts Broken marriages often create substantial trauma for children. A noncustodial parent shouldn’t add to it by dragging the kids into financial fights with their ex.
Be Aware that Failure to Pay Child Support Can Have Serious Consequences Under the law, child support is considered to be an essential parental duty. Even an unemployed parent will usually have a minimum amount of child support they must pay. If you fail to pay, the courts can:
- Garnish wages
- Forfeit tax returns
- Damage your credit
- Charge interest
- Suspend professional or driver’s licenses
- Withhold unemployment or other government benefits
- Order jail time
Child support is a financial obligation that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. Since each state has the power to enforce child support orders, the likelihood of these consequences being imposed is high. If you have questions about the particular child support laws in your state, or if you have another family law concern, such as divorce, spousal support, or child custody, speak with a family lawyer, like a family lawyer in Rockville, MD. An attorney can ensure your financial interests are protected and access to your children is sufficient.
Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into some of the important things you should know about child support.