Child support serves an important role. It provides the necessary financial resources to sustain your child’s well being. Calculating the accurate amount, on the other hand, isn’t always straight forward. People often make a number of common child support mistakes.
Three major topics that factor into how support should be computed are:
- Changing circumstances.
- Income fluctuations.
- Child’s needs.
Being aware of common child support mistakes is an important step toward ensuring your payments are accurate and fair.
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Not Acknowledging Changes in Income
It’s important to know that changes in your income can affect your support obligation, especially during tough economic times. A common child support mistake for men who have lost their job or taken a pay cut is to not ask for a reduction in their payments. By simply making all parties aware of a change, a conversation can be started to modify support payments.
To gain a reduction, you must file a motion requesting a decrease based on the substantial change of circumstances with the court. This is extremely important because even if you have made a deal with the other parent, it is not considered binding. It’s crucial to have a court order explicitly modifying your support obligation. This makes the alteration legally binding.
If you don’t have a court order changing the amount you owe every month, you remain obligated to pay the full amount. Not paying can get you into a lot of debt quickly. When you don’t follow the orders, also known as contempt, your payments accumulate interest which. You will ultimately have to pay that in addition to the original amount.
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Not Keeping Proof of Payment
Regardless of how amicable the relationship with your child’s other parent, always have proof of every dollar you pay. This is an all too common child support mistake. When in doubt, always document child support payments.
Your court order outlines how payments are to be made. Payments not made through the approved channels may be construed as a gift and not applied toward your obligation.
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Overlooking Written Orders
Navigating a child custody case in California often becomes a challenge. In many circumstances, the small details are the most important. Written orders explicitly define the specifics of all aspects of your custody agreement.
Your written order also spells out who is responsible for support payments, tax breaks, medical insurance, and more. It’s critical you and your attorney proactively advocate for fair and equitable terms.
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Assuming it is a Formula
Although you have access to many child support calculators online, don’t fall prey to thinking that it is a simple formula. Every child support matter is unique and determined on a case by case basis.
Many different factors influence your payment obligations. Don’t assume your payment will be the same as someone else’s. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through the process, point out common child support mistakes, and potentially save you from overpaying thousands of dollars a year.
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Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of an earlier post and has been revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.