Understanding Support Orders

While children seldom understand why their parents are divorcing, they still will feel the effects. The family courts system makes it a priority to protect these children of divorce from at least one serious impact, and that is the issue of financial well-being. If you are the divorcing parents of a minor child, one of you will be facing the child support issue, so read on to learn more.

It's an order

The determination of who has to pay child support and the amount depends on several issues. In most cases, the parent who has primary physical custody of the child does not pay; that task goes to the parent who gets visitation privileges only. There is, however, a income component to the determination, and usually it is the parent who makes the most money that has to pay the support money. The actual amount is usually based on income, and in some cases the support payments are assigned to certain responsibilities. For example, one parent may have to pay the health insurance premium and another the child care expense.

It's a crime

The parent charged with paying child support could face serious penalties for failure to pay, and if you attempt to move to avoid paying by moving to another state, you could face federal charges because of the Deadbeat Parent Punishment Act. The law has the ability to:

  • Garnish your wages
  • Put liens on your property
  • Seize your income tax refunds
  • Charge you with contempt of court
  • Revoke your driver's license
  • Put you in jail
  • Remove you from government assistance programs, like food stamps
  • Prevent you from using government sponsored mortgage loans, like FHA, USDA and the Veteran's Administration.

If you cannot pay

Whatever you do, don't just ignore your obligation. If you are having trouble paying the ordered amount, speak to the enforcement agency in your area and try to come to an agreement to bring your payments up to date. You should also consider the need to have the support order amended. Since the original order was based on income, you may be able to get the order altered if you can show good cause. For example, if you have had medical problems and are unable to work or if you changed jobs and are making less money now, y our circumstances have clearly changed. Speak to a family law attorney and file a request for a support hearing. Be prepared to show proof of the change in your financial circumstances, and understand that the courts are reluctant to change an agreement that have been working well up to now, as least as far as the child is concerned. 

Contact a firm, like Nichols, Speidel, & Nichols, for more help.