While child custody disputes and getting an order for support in place can be a stressful process, there is plenty of information available about court procedures and what to expect afterward.
As a general rule, it is a good idea to have your own family lawyer for most of these issues, as they will be able to make sure your best interests are being served regardless of actions taken by the state or local government.
Calculation of support payments
The state calls the process of getting an initial child support order “establishment.” Guidelines are uniform throughout Alabama, and mostly based on income and expenses. Alabama has a unique model for calculating child support payments that is different from most other states. The reason why such a model was adopted is that it is supposed to replicate the support amount the child would receive if both parents were living together. This is determined by a calculation that combines the gross income of both parents and requires each to give a share for support payments that is proportionate to their contribution to the family’s total wages. This can become confusing, but an experienced child support lawyer in the state will explain exactly how this applies to your situation.
Deviation from the standard payments
These payments can be modified or deviations from the guidelines can occur based on a few specific factors.
- If one parent has custody for a significant amount of time that is different from most other support cases
- There are significant transportation costs due to long distances between the two parents
- Any other relevant factors that the parents bring to the court’s attention
What are the penalties for missed payments?
Missing child support payments has serious consequences that can land someone in criminal trouble and ruin their finances. This will happen to the parent obligated to make payments, even if they are living in a different state.
The state of Alabama will attempt to collect payments from wages directly through wage withholding as a preventive measure in most cases. A license to drive or practice professionally may be suspended. The judge assigned to the case can hold the person in contempt and have them placed in jail. Tax refunds can be withheld, and the person’s credit history and score will also be affected. Any money paid out by the state to the person from other sources may be withheld. There will also be interest charged on late payments making it much more expensive over time to make late payments than timely ones.
These penalties are all serious, and that is why it is important to contact an attorney in your area as soon as you are having trouble making payments in order to avoid further financial losses and possible jail time.
Termination of child support
Support obligations end at the child’s nineteenth birthday, or if they are legally emancipated from their parents before then. As a general rule, those who are making support payments should normally expect to do so until this age. If the child’s paternity is not established before the nineteenth birthday, it is too late, and paternity will have no legal effect on support and custody issues.
Get help from a family law attorney
To get help with any family law issues such as divorces, child custody, or child support, contact Jackie Brown, Attorney at Law. She can provide you with superior legal representation in Mobile, Alabama and surrounding areas.