Child support is a contentious issue because of the significant costs that are associated with these payments from the time a child is born until they reach adulthood. The non-custodial parent will normally have to put aside hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month for well over a decade. If they start to miss these payments they will be subjected to severe penalties., which means that child support obligations need to be handled with care.
Local news for the Mobile Alabama area reported on child support payments around the nation, where Alabama ranks right around the median at about $750 per month.
Child support costs vary significantly around the nation
The amounts used for each state in the article represent what the typical non-custodial parent would pay. Most of the variance in these amounts comes from the costs that the parent with less custody time is expected to cover. All of the figures were generated by using a hypothetical family where there are two minor children present, the mother is awarded 65 percent custody and earns $45,000 per year, while the father earns $55,000.
The support costs cover a broad range throughout the United States. Virginia ranks the lowest with payments of $402 a month, where an average parent in Massachusetts will have to put aside $1,187 monthly for child support payments. Alabama was ranked number 24 out of 50, meaning parents in 23 other states generally have higher payments. This divergence is almost entirely based on the fact that some states think the non-custodial parent needs to put a much greater percentage of their income towards child care costs. However, some states do allow judges to deviate from standard support guidelines more easily than others, and there is the possibility that both parents can amicably agree on the amount of money that will be exchanged.
It was noted that child support laws can become complex, and states are often engaged in a balancing act of making sure a child’s needs are met, but not making payments so high that most individuals will not be able to afford them, which results in additional problems. Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Texas, also do not consider a mother’s income at all in their support formulas, which generally makes the payment about $100 more per month for the non-custodial parent.
Alabama’s child support laws
The state of Alabama bases a support order on the income shares model. This means that health insurance, work related costs like daycare, and the basic support obligation are added together. This sum is divided and shared between the two parents proportionately based on their income. There is also the possibility of deviation from this formula for things like exceptional costs related to transportation, education, or if the child has their own substantial assets. Family court judges generally have a lot of discretion in their rulings as long as there is some evidence to back up their decisions, and a lawyer can help persuade the judge in favor of their client.
Custody time can make a huge difference in support payments
Child custody is a related issue that can significantly affect these amounts. The example from the news story included a mother who is with the children approximately two thirds of the time. In other examples, a mother who is with the children ninety percent of the time will result in much greater payment amounts from the non-custodial parent. This is why it is so crucial to get help from a lawyer before a custody hearing, as payment amounts can vary greatly based on how much time a judge thinks each parent should spend with their kids. A custody lawyer will make arguments before a judge regarding your suitability for spending time with the child. This will help maximize your custody time. Any serious problems in the other parent’s history such as substance abuse or long-term unemployment may cause them to lose custody time.
Non-payment is a serious matter
When someone is subjected to an order to pay support that they do not believe is fair or they will not be able to afford, it is important to schedule a hearing to modify the amount as soon as possible and retain a lawyer. If someone does not make their child support payments or falls behind, there are serious consequences that can include garnished wages, loss of a driver’s license, suspension of professional credentials, and even incarceration. It is best to get legal help immediately to avoid large amounts of debt related to unpaid support.
Get help from a family law expert in your city
To talk with an experienced family law attorney in the Mobile, Alabama area, contact Jackie Brown, Attorney at Law. You will receive guidance regarding child support payments, as well as any other related issues such as custody.