Each parent is obligated to support the minor children of the marriage. A party ordered to provide support for a minor child is statutorily required to support that child until the child reaches the age of 18 or is still enrolled in high school full time, living with a parent. In that instance, child support continues until a child is 19 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first.
The obligation to pay child support cannot be waived. However, a party can agree to pay support longer than that required by statute, and in some limited circumstances, such as with an incapacitated child, the Court may order support past that required by statute. In the event a child is legally emancipated, the support obligation ceases.
Child support is computed according to “Guideline” adopted by the legislature. Parties can agree, without court intervention, as to the amount and method of payment of child support as long as it is reasonable.
Child support is calculated using the income of both parents and the amount of time each party spends with the child pursuant to their parenting arrangement. The Court can consider other factors such as unusual medical or educational expenses in determining child support. Most attorneys, and the Courts, have computer programs to assist them in determining guideline support.
It is difficult, however, to determine what guideline support may be prior to instituting a legal action unless you are able to furnish an attorney with specifics regarding your income, your spouse’s income, all appropriate deductions, and the amount of time you expect to have the child in your custody. Even then, any calculation provided is speculative as many factors have not been ultimately determined and if decided differently could cause the calculation to change considerably.
You cannot include income from a party’s new spouse in the determination of child support. Only the income of the spouse who is a party to the action can be considered.
Unless otherwise determined by the Court, parties are traditionally required to share equally the cost of:
Unless otherwise agreed to by the parties or by order of the Court, neither party is obligated by law to pay for the following:
Therefore, it is important to consider these factors when negotiating Marital Settlement Agreements or when pursuing your rights in Court.
If one parent has voluntarily reduced their income or is capable of working, but is not, the Court has the power to award support based on that party’s earning capacity, or “imputed income.” There are many factors that a Court will consider in making this type of order and it is best to seek the advice of counsel if you wish to have a party’s earning capacity considered in the determination of child support.
Child support is modifiable by either party at any time until the support obligation terminates upon any showing of changed circumstances including, but not limited to, changes in visitation schedules and changes in income.
If you are currently receiving or paying child support without a court order, the payments are voluntary and cannot be enforced. Therefore, if the supporting spouse decides to stop making these voluntary payments, you cannot request the Court reimburse you child support not paid any time prior to filing a motion to enforce or to determine, child support, or prior to the time of filing the Petition for Dissolution.
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Charles Kim Jr.
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