Summary in Divorce
Both parents, married or divorced, must provide their children with necessities, and thatís why one parent pays child support. Usually, child support is court-ordered payments the non-custodial parent (usually the father) pays to the custodial parent (usually the mother).
Child support is not a gift or payment for the privilege of visiting the children; it is an obligation, and the failure to pay it is contempt of court. Support must be used for the children. Child support cannot be waived. A child has a legal right to support, and no parent can give this away. Parents may agree that no child support will be paid from one to the other, but the court will have final say as to whether this would be appropriate. Divorced parents should not use child support and visitation as weapons against each other because each is independent of the other. That means, for example, that a man who is having trouble with his former wife about visitation may not withhold child support as a way of getting what he wants. The obligation to pay support continues until the child is emancipated, as defined by state law, or by the parties in the marital settlement agreement. Unlike alimony, child support is not tax deductible to the payor, nor taxable to the payee. Jurisdictions vary in the determination and calculation of child support. In determining child support, the court considers child support or alimony either parent receives or pays in conjunction with previous marriages and whether either parent now lives with a new partner or spouse who contributes to household expenses. Other factors include which parent is paying health insurance and its cost, day care and its cost, union dues and amount, and the ages of the children. Most states have support guidelines, but courts deviate from them as needed when the noncustodial parent can pay more, the guidelines are too high or low in particular case, the child has special needs or one parent is a slacker not earning up to his or her potential. In calculating support, courts sometime use what is called the income shares model, wherein child support is calculated by estimating the amount of support that would have been available to the child(ren) if the family had remained intact, or the percentage of income model, wherein support is a percentage of the income of the parent obligated to pay the child support.
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