Divorce is complex, especially when there are children involved. To make it a bit easier, learn which common child support mistakes to avoid so you can comply with court decisions — and, of course, provide for your children.
- Failing to report changes in your income: Income fluctuations can dictate changes to your obligation. If you’ve lost your job, receive fewer hours, get a pay cut, or otherwise experience a change in income, you will often get a reduction in your obligation. You must request a decrease by filing a motion with the court, however. Furthermore, if you can’t pay the full amount but you haven’t reported your decreased wages, you can be held in contempt and start to fall into debt.
- Missing the details: Child support goes beyond than a simple monetary sum. There are support payments, yes, but there may also be considerations made for insurance and taxes. Make sure your attorney describes these to you in detail so that you understand your full obligation.
- Not making payments through court-approved methods. The court will list the ways that child support payments can be made. Make a payment by another method, and it can be construed as a gift. Even if your divorce was friendly and you’re still on good terms, always pay according to the court-approved methods to reduce your vulnerability and keep everything on the up-and-up.
- Counting money spent with your child as “child support.”: Money that you spend on your child doesn’t count toward child support either. You can still spend money on your child, of course, but that does not reduce the child support you owe. Similarly, you may see that their ex-partner is not spending child support on your child. Rather than clothes and schooling, for example, that money goes towards vacations. That is frustrating, but you cannot reduce child support. Check with your lawyer, and until you have a legal agreement, continue paying your court-ordered support.
- One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Child support isn’t decided by a formula alone. An online calculator cannot tell you all you need to know. Many factors come into play, and it’s important to understand these so that you don’t overpay or get bitten down the road by a consideration you didn’t notice initially. Oftentimes, a situation can get worse not because two divorced parents want it to be worse, but simply because one or both didn’t fully understand a legal detail.