Going through a separation or divorce can be tough, especially when there are kids involved. Child support is basically financial help from one parent to the other to cover the costs of raising a child. It’s awarded by a court when parents can’t live together anymore. 

The idea is to make sure both parents contribute fairly to their child’s well-being, even if they’re not in the same house. 

If you are the one paying it, you need to understand how it works. Also, you can sue the other parent if you are the receiver and they are not paying child support. Speak with a lawyer to know about the child support guidelines. This post dives into five frequently asked questions about child support, straight from an experienced lawyer. 

  1. How Long is Child Support to Be Paid?

This depends on your state’s laws, but generally, child support continues until your child reaches the age of majority. In most states, that’s 18. There are a few exceptions, though.

Some states extend support if the child is still in high school past 18, as long as they’re on track to graduate. Also, if your child has a disability that prevents them from being self-supporting, the court might order payments to continue beyond the age of majority.

The key thing to remember is that child support is about helping your child grow up healthy and secure. The law reflects that by ensuring support lasts until they’re financially independent, with some flexibility for specific situations.

  1. What if the One Partner Lives in Another State?

No worries, there are laws in place to handle this! The federal Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) makes sure both parents fulfill their support obligations across state lines. Here’s how it works:

The state where your child lives will establish the child support order. Then, they’ll send it to the other state where your ex lives. That state’s court will enforce the order, meaning they’ll make sure your ex pays what they owe.

So, even if your ex moves across the country, they’re still responsible for their fair share under the UIFSA. This helps ensure your child receives the support they deserve, no matter where life takes your family.

  1. Is Child Support Tax Deductible?

This one’s a common question, but the answer is simple: no, child support payments are not tax-deductible for the paying parent. The logic behind this is that you’re not really spending the money; it’s going toward your child’s well-being, which is a legal obligation.

It’s similar to buying groceries or other amenities for your child – it’s an expense you take on as a parent, not a personal deduction. On the flip side, the parent receiving child support doesn’t have to include those payments as income on their tax return.

  1. Can Child Support Be Modified Afterwards?

Life circumstances can change, and the law recognizes that. So yes, child support can be modified under certain conditions. 

For instance, let’s say either parent experiences a significant and lasting increase or decrease in income, the court might adjust the support amount to reflect their new financial situation.

Or, supposing your child’s needs change due to medical expenses, educational costs, or other factors, the court can re-evaluate the support amount to ensure it adequately covers those needs.

Any modification that is to be made needs court approval. If you believe your circumstances warrant a change, consult a lawyer to understand your options and navigate the legal process.

  1. What if the Other Partner Refuses to Pay Up?

It’s frustrating when an ex refuses to fulfill their responsibility. But don’t worry, there are steps you can take. Most states have a child support enforcement agency that can help you collect payments. They can track down your ex, garnish their wages (meaning take money directly from their paycheck), intercept tax refunds, and even take legal action if necessary.

If the agency or the state doesn’t resolve the issue, you can file a motion to modify the child support order or hold your ex in contempt of court. This means the court can find them in violation of the order and impose penalties, which could include jail time.