Child support can be a very sensitive topic that makes separated partners even more at-odds with each other. In many scenarios, it is custodial mothers who receive payments from non-custodial fathers. However, in some instances mothers may pay child support to fathers with sole custody. Which parent is court-ordered to pay child support and for how much depends on income level, state laws, and the child’s needs. Fathers who are preparing for a child support hearing may want to talk with a child support lawyer, like a child support lawyer in Rockville, MD, about their rights and potential outcomes.
Q: How long can child support last?
A: In general, the law requires that the paying parent continues these payments until the child becomes of legal age (unless the child has special needs). If the child has enrolled into active duty military, the child is emancipated by the court, or if parental rights have been terminated, then child support payments will end.
Q: Is it always the non-custodial parent who pays child support?
A: Each parent has a responsibility to support their growing children in some way. The courts will evaluate the situation to determine which parent could use the financial support to help the child the most. It is more common for the custodial parent to receive child support from the non-custodial parent. If the mother and father are awarded joint custody, the amount to be paid may be calculated based on what percentage of time the child spends living with each parent, and what percentage each parent contributes to the joint income.
Q: What if I am not sure that I am the father?
A: There are two reasons that a father may be required to make child support payments. The first, is the father has taken a paternity test and was proven to be the biological father to that child. The second is that the father has welcomed the child into his home as his own, despite not being genetically related. A stepfather is not automatically legally liable for paying child support, but if he officially adopts the child and essentially terminates the parental rights of the biological father, then he becomes responsible for providing financial support.
Q: How is the child support amount determined?
A: Every state is required to establish laws on how child support is calculated. Overall, the income level of both parents and the expenses for the child are largely what determines how much is paid. Because child support legalities can vary greatly between states, it may be a good idea for a father to talk with an attorney who is knowledgeable in family law cases. The courts may also factor in what the child’s standard of living was like prior to the parents’ separation, how much support the custodial parent has, and the non-custodial parent’s capacity to pay. During the hearing, a judge will listen to both sides and examine financial documentation from each parent before making a final verdict. A judge will decide what is in the best interest of the child and how much is required to meet the child’s needs.
Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into what fathers must know about paying child support.