Child Support

When dealing with custody and child support issues children are frequently the emotional pawns of divorce. Most times parents show their resentments about their spouses by degrading the other parent in front of the children. Another way is by fighting over the children when dealing with custody and child support issues. Children feel scared and guilty when parents do this to one another. It is very important for both parents to keep their emotions intact. This will ensure that both parents will be better equipped to deal with the legal and financial realities of child support. Regardless of divorce, every parent has an obligation to support his or her children.

Some of the factors in deciding upon child support include:

  • Each parent's ability to earn and pay support
  • The needs of the child/children
  • The amount of time the child/children spends with each parent

Luckily for children, society has become less tolerant of parents who fail to comply with child support obligations. The federal government requires all state governments to enact laws to enable enforcement of child support orders.

Child support, visitation and custody, are all issues concerning your children that you and your mate may inwardly and outwardly struggle over when deciding what is best for your children. Children should never be used to get back at the other spouse. Remember, divorce is between parents; children are the innocent victims in a divorce and need protection at all cost from the stresses and difficulties of divorce. Your behavior can always do more damage to your children that to anyone else. The best interest of the children should always be in the forefront of all decisions regarding divorce.

Any legal amount of child support is probably less than the actual dollar amount necessary to meet the needs of growing children and their activities. Never allow child support payments to become an excuse for venting frustrations out on your ex-spouse. Parents will need to devise strategies for finding the funds not provided by child support. Financial reality sometimes demands that you recognize the problems caused by rising living expenses and caused by lack of compliance. Always confront any lack of compliance for your children's sake, not for revenge.

There are some questions that you should consider when analyzing the financial consequences of paying or receiving child support:

  • What does it realistically cost to raise your children and their activities?
  • Who should have custody of the children? Who is best able to give the children the time that is required to raise happy and healthy children?
  • How much child support is needed or how much child support can you afford?
  • In your state, what are the child support guidelines?
  • What is your bottom line regarding child support and/or child custody?

Most parents find that as they move through the divorce process, their choices about child support are dictated by their own financial abilities and the state's guidelines. Custody has two separate issues: the legal authority to make decisions about the educational, health, medical and welfare needs of child; and physical control over a child. In most states the court will award joint custody. Most parents share custody because in most cases, both parents work outside the home and it just makes sense for joint custody for financial reasons.

Courts consider several factors in determining in the best interest of the child as far as custody is concerned:

  • The distance between the parents' households
  • Special needs of the child and parents
  • The child/children's ages, sexes, maturity levels, temperament and strength of attachment to each parent.
  • Childcare arrangement
  • Transportation needs
  • The child/children's relationship with siblings and friends
  • Flexibility of both parents' work schedules and the children's schedules
  • Each parent's ability to care for the child's needs
  • The willingness of a previously uninvolved parent to provide adequate supervision
  • The ability of the parents to communicate and cooperate
  • The child and parents' cultural and religious practices

Parents will need to take into consideration the following checklist of issues when negotiating child support:

  • A low or high-income parent
  • Shared physical custody arrangements
  • Professional psychological counseling for children of divorce
  • Children's special needs
  • Various extra-curricular activities and fees
  • Support obligations to a former household, including alimony
  • A parent's extraordinary needs, such as medical expenses
  • The intentional reduction, suppression or hiding of income of the other parent
  • Travel expenses required for custodial time with one parent
  • Other support given, such as alimony, lump sum payments or medical payments
  • How the child support payments will be secured, including a requirement of life or disability insurance
  • Employee benefits, medical saving plans, cost and quality of dental, medical and/or life insurance
  • Other fairness factors