Who has to pay child support?
Liability is imposed upon both parents. Substantially all states have adopted the Uniform Support of Dependents Law. Under that law, “if possessed of sufficient means or able to earn such means, either or both parents shall be required to pay for child support a fair and reasonable sum as the court may determine.”
How is child support calculated?
The federal Family Support Act of 1988 requires every state to establish numerical child support guidelines. Every state has “child support guidelines” that applies a percentage to the non-custodial parent’s income. It is from this percentage that the child support is calculated.
What income is included in the calculation?
In the vast majority of cases, child support is based on reported wages of the payors, as proven by income tax returns.
What can I do to make sure child support payment is made?
There are many enforcement means available in most states. These include income deducting money from the payor parent’s wages, making a negative report to credit reporting agencies, collecting past-due child support from lottery prizes won by the payor parent, intercepting tax refunds due the payor parent from state and federal income tax authorities, seizing property the payor parent owns, such as real estate and bank accounts, medical support enforcement (where the employer is required to deduct health insurance premiums from the payor parent’s wages similar to an income execution), obtaining a court order directing that the payor parent pay a cash deposit to secure payment of support, obtaining a court order placing the defaulting parent on probation and, usually where other methods have all failed, obtaining a court order sentencing the defaulting parent to serve jail time.
Can my former spouse file for bankruptcy to avoid paying child support?
No. The federal bankruptcy code exempts child support and alimony.
What if my former spouse cannot be found?
Most states have a parent locator service. Call your state’s support enforcement agency and ask about the parent locator service. All states have adopted the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (“UIFSA”), a statute providing for interstate collection of child support. This Act sets up the method for enforcement of support orders where the parties live in different states. Essentially, the party seeking enforcement, files a petition in his or her home state. That petition is sent to the payor parent’s home state and he or she is brought into the court of that state. Usually the custodial parent in a UIFSA proceeding is represented by an attorney who works for a government agency in the payor parent’s home state. If you wish to file a UIFSA petition, you should be able to obtain the assistance you need to file the petition and get an attorney appointed to represent you in the other parent’s state by contacting your local child support enforcement agency. UIFSA proceedings can be very time-consuming and frustrating. In many cases, the custodial parent is better served hiring an attorney to file a petition in either the custodial parent or payor parent’s state directly rather than through the UIFSA procedures. Prior to filing a UIFSA petition, the custodial parent should usually consult with an attorney in his or her home state to discuss whether filing a UIFSA petition is the best method for collecting support under the circumstances of the case.
Other questions about child support? Contact Craig Gibbs, your New Orleans child support lawyer.