6 Things to Know About Child Support Before You Divorce

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A divorce is not necessarily the end, especially when there is a child involved. It is just a new beginning. Following separation, each parent will have a set of obligations to respect. Child support may raise some concerns from both parties. Here are 6 things to know about child support before the divorce:

1. Duration of Child Support

Paying child support is usually required by law until one of the following situations applies:

  • The child becomes of legal age. There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule: if the child has special needs or still goes to high school.
  • A court declares a minor child legally emancipated. The main factor in determining this if the child no longer needs any support.
  • Termination of parental rights.
  • In most states, financial support ends if the child joins the military and becomes active duty.

2. Determining the Amount for Child Support

How the amount for child support is determined differs between states. In California, the most important things that come into play are the number of children, each parent’s income, and parenting time. However, there are also other factors that matter. Before you divorce, you should know what amount to expect in child support. To obtain this information, contact a lawyer. They will review your case and determine a close estimate of the amount to expect.

3. Is Health Insurance Covered?

Child support laws in California require medical support as well. Depending on the court order, the child’s health insurance could be covered by one or both parents. A basic plan covers medical, vision, and dental. A parent can opt-out from covering the child’s health insurance. They need to fill out a set of forms and await the court decision. However, courts want to make sure that a child receives proper care, and are not too open to such changes.

4. What Happens if the Parent Who Pays Child Support Dies?

The death of a spouse following a divorce can lead to many legal complications. A child will be entitled to any remaining child support from the deceased parent. The difference can be paid from the estate, before distribution of property and assets according to the will. However, a life insurance policy can also cover the cost.

When neither of these paths proves viable, the surviving parent can file a claim in probate court. If the child did not receive the due amount before turning 18, they can sue the estate of the deceased parent.

5. Consequences for Not Paying Child Support?

When the custodial parent has failed to receive the agreed-upon child support, they can submit a written legal request for contempt. If the court concludes that the other parent has willingly disobeyed the order, they can hold the person in contempt. California courts can enact a series of legal measures on a person in contempt, including:

  • A fine as high as $1,000 joined by a few days of jail sentence. However, fines in these cases are not so common, since the amount can be directed toward the child instead.
  • Paying the attorney fees linked to the proceedings about enforcing the child support court order.
  • Community service. For a first incident and second incident, it can be up to 120 hours, and it doubles for a third incident.
  • Withholding wages until the amount owed with child support is paid.
  • Order the owed amount to be paid directly from the bank account.

6. Is No Child Support Even an Option?

Yes, it is. Parents who divorce can jointly decide that child support will not be needed. However, the decision will come under court scrutiny to ensure that the child’s needs will be met. However, the court can take up the matter any time an issue arises regarding the child’s care or if the financial situation of either parent has changed significantly.

Final Thoughts

Child support is a financial obligation of one parent towards the child. The amount will be awarded to the custodial parent to be used for the child’s care. Laws around child care differ between states, so make sure to follow up on the specific regulations that govern your region.