Paying Child Support
Parents whose children are in the physical custody of the other parent usually are required to pay child support. These payments are meant to help cover the costs of raising a child. Whether it's through a mutual agreement or a court order, paying child support is not only important to the child's well-being but also strictly enforced by state authorities. In fact, a parent who ignores a court order to pay child support could face criminal punishment.
The issues of child support should revolve around what is best for the child. The following articles cover various issues pertaining to the payment of child support.
Child Support and the Internal Revenue Service
According to the IRS, child support payments are not considered taxable income. That means child support payments cannot be deducted by the payer (noncustodial parent) and are not taxable to the payee (custodial parent). Accordingly, when calculating your gross income to see if you are required to file a tax return, do not include child support payments received. If you are paying child support, you cannot deduct it as an expense, meaning it will not affect your adjusted gross income.
Income and Support Orders
When establishing a child support order, a judge generally must follow specific state guidelines. Those guidelines are “income driven," meaning the support amount is determined primarily by the income of the parties. Income goes beyond simple wages and salary, however, and it's important for parents to understand what funds are considered "income" under the child support guidelines.
In some states, the income of a new spouse, to the extent that income directly reduces the expenses of the custodial parent, is considered income for child support purposes. In other states, a new spouse's income is not included as income for a parent when calculating child support.
Receiving Disability Payments and Child Supports
If you receive disability money based on your past employment, it is considered income for purposes of child support. For example, let's say you worked for a government agency for 20 years before becoming disabled and the agency now pays you disability.
If the disability money you receive is means tested public assistance (based on income), it is not income for child support. One example is Supplement Security Income (SSI) received from the Social Security Administration. SSI is a means-based benefit to recipients with limited income and resources. In contrast, Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is considered income for child support purposes because it is not means-based, but rather is based on a person's employment before becoming disabled.
A New Job and Child Support Modification
If you are a non-custodial parent and have changed jobs, the amount of child support you are required to pay does not automatically change to reflect your new salary. However, you may petition the court to change a child support order after transitioning to a new job, particularly if you can no longer afford the payments due to a decrease in pay. Similarly, the custodial parent may seek a modification for additional child support if the non-custodial parent earns substantially higher wages from a new job.
Finding an Experienced Child Support Attorney
To find an attorney or law firm to help you resolve your child support case, you can search the FindLaw Lawyer Directory. If you cannot afford to hire a private attorney, low-cost or free legal aid may be available in your area. Courthouse self-help centers and state administrations that oversee child support enforcement may be able to provide forms and assistance completing paperwork but they can not give you legal help.
Only an experienced attorney can provide you with legal advice specific to your situation. Be sure to take the time to investigate and interview an attorney before hiring him or her to handle your case.
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