An Overview of Child Support Law

In defining the basics of a child custody case, one must clarify the legal definition of child custody itself. Child custody, otherwise known as guardianship, details the rights of parents to sustain a court-approved relationship with their child or children. Included in child custody arrangements is the parent’s right to physical contact with their child as well as telephone and electronic communication. In exchange for these rights, the courts define the responsibilities of being a child’s guardian or custodian in broad terms, but in general, duties of child custodianship includes caring for a child, making decisions in the best interest of the child, and providing a safe and reasonable standard of living.

Demographical Information Regarding Child Support and Custody

The United States Census Bureau takes great pains to assess accurately the current climate of child custody in America in order for legislatures to make informed decisions regarding these issues at a local, state, and even national level. One notable caveat to these statistics is the varying age range for children to be considered dependents of custodial and non-custodial parents by differing state family courts. In keeping with the maximal uniformity, the bureau maintains, for simplicity’s sake, children under the age of 21 years old are still dependents of custodial and non-custodial parents. In 2006, the bureau reported approximately 13.6 million parents maintained custody of 21.2 million children while the non-custodial parent resided elsewhere. Of these 21.2 million children, this figure represents 26% of the total children under the age of 21 years old in the United States as living in a shared or sole custody arrangement.  

If may have legal questions or need legal help regarding Child Abuse or Support, consult with an Attorney in your area to to discuss your options.

 Furthering the assessment of the demographics of child custody within the United States, the bureau notes a grave disparity between primary custody of mothers and fathers. In fact, 83.8% of custodial parents were mothers as opposed to only 16.2% of fathers being designated as the primary caregiver. Interestingly, the bureau further disseminates the demographics of the marital status of mother caregivers by percent. Nearly 33% of primary custodial mothers cite never having been married. Of the 67% of custodial mothers having been married, 1.3% are widows, 21.7% are still married or remarried, and 44.2% are divorced or legally separated.

Financial Statistics Regarding Child Support

Understandably, many child custody disputes center around the arrangements of child custody paper agreements. Whether reached privately, through mediation with an attorney for child custody, or through the mandate of a family court, non-custodial parents must support their dependent children regardless of custody status. According to common law, a child receives an unequivocal right to receive the support of both mother and father from the time of birth until the age of eighteen, which in some jurisdictions is further lengthened to the age of 21 or until the child completes college. Clearly, the financial aspects of raising a child are an intensely emotional and pertinent position to consider.

As of 2005, 13.6 million custodial parents cared for children within the United States. Of these 13.6 million custodial parents, the Census Bureau reports 7.8 million were awarded child support with annual average of the child support payments due resting around $5,584 per instance. Of the 5.8 million custodial parents lacking any formal documentation noting a child support arrangement, the reasons for doing so vary.

Reasons some custodial parents cite for not having child support arrangements include:

  • Did not feel the need to go to court, 33.7%
  • Other parent gave enough support without an order, 27.9%
  • Felt other parent could not afford child support, 24.1%

The remaining 14.3% of custodial parents without support agreements noted some of the following reasons:

  • Criminal or legal troubles for either parent
  • Financially secure without support arrangements
  • Not sure of whereabouts of non-custodial parent
  • Non-custodial parent is deceased

The importance of obtaining a support agreement from non-custodial parents is not only the legal right of a mother or father, but also, this is always in the best interest of the child. Child custody lawyers can assist parents in retaining not only their legal rights to financial support, but also, improve the quality of their and their child’s lives.

Beginning a Child Support Action

For a custodian wishing to pursue the parents or other parents for child support obligations, contacting the local child support agency office is the place to begin. With the assistance of divorce custody lawyers, this process can prove easy to handle and efficiently done. It is also important to note that a biological parent does not necessarily make them a child’s custodian. Regardless of the relationship between the custodian and the child, biological parents are responsible for child support payments.

Some relations a custodian may have with a dependent child include:

  • Grandparent
  • Aunt, Uncle
  • Older Brother or Sister
  • Court Appointed Foster Parent
  • Court Appointed Foster Organization
If may have legal questions or need legal help regarding Child Abuse or Support, consult with an Attorney in your area to to discuss your options.

 In the event two parents wish to retain custody of their children, the courts will establish one of several forms of child support joint custody arrangements. These custody arrangements are specifically established in the best interest of the child. In all cases, the court ordered child support amount remains the same. The only notable exception to this is when both parents have joint, physical custody of the children, which will then adjust the child support amount owed due to the fact both parents incur the daily living expenses of a child. The two most typical forms of custody arrangement titles include sole custody and joint custody in which both parents share responsibility for the welfare and decision making for a child. In addition, special arrangements, on a case-by-case basis, can address burdening costs such as medical expenses, educational expenses, and a litany of other items that a child may or may not be accustomed to receiving prior to the separation of the biological parents.

Factors Influencing Child Support Monetary Awards

When hearing arguments for a child support case, family courts consider a number of factors prior to establishing a child support award to a parent. Factors such as incomes of parents, employment status, marital status, government benefits, work pensions, debt obligations, and other personal items will always influence the ordered payment amount of the non-custodial parent. In keeping with the ideal that the child’s best interests come first, the courts will also take into account the total costs of raising each specific child, which may include health care, psychological care, special schooling, or a whole host of other individualized expenses. For many couples, easing the child support process through mediation or even arbitration with lawyers is the most efficient and cost effective solution.

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