Child Support Obligations

Either divorcing parent may have to pay child support. In some cases, the mother is non-custodial and is required to pay child support. However, in other instances, a mother gains custody of the child, and the father, as the non-custodial parent, pays the child support. 

If you are a divorcing parent, you may know little about your child-support obligations. Here is a bit of information about child support to help you better understand it.

Why Does Custody Matter?

Both of a child's parents are responsible for the financial support of the child. However, once a divorce takes place and one parent is awarded physical custody of the child, the custodial parent's financial support requirements are automatically satisfied. The remaining parent pays child support to fulfill their parental financial obligation.

If the court has awarded joint custody, the amount of support contributed by each parent is based on the percentage of the couple's joint income that each parent earns, along with the fraction of time that each parent has the child in their custody.

Is a Stepparent Liable for Child Support?

A stepparent is not financially responsible for child support. However, this responsibility changes if the stepparent has legally adopted a child. In that case, the parental rights of at least one of the child's biological parents have been terminated, and the adoptive parent becomes liable for the child's support.

How Is The Amount of Child Support Determined?

Each state has guidelines that help determine the amount of child support that is due, using income and expense calculations. Still, since each state's rules may differ, the child support required may vary extensively between states.

Does Child Support Last Forever?

If you have been legally ordered to pay child support, the support should continue until one of the following occurs: 

  • Your child becomes an adult. Unless you have a special needs child, once your child is no longer considered a minor, your child support payments can stop. 
  • Your child is adopted. If your child is adopted or there has been another legal termination of your parental rights, you can stop payments.
  • Your child is court-emancipated. If the court considers your minor child to be an adult due to their ability to support themselves, you may be free to cease making child support payments.
  • Your child is actively enlisted in the military. Once your child is considered an active-duty person in the military, they are no longer eligible for child support.

For more information about child support, schedule a consultation with a child support attorney in your area.