Child support serves an important role in providing your child the necessary financial resources to sustain their well being—but calculating the accurate amount of support that is necessary isn’t infallible.
Changing circumstances, income fluctuations, and the child’s needs all factor into how support should be computed. Being aware of common child support mistakes is an important step toward ensuring your payments are accurate and fair.
Not Acknowledging Changes in Income
Especially during tough economic times it is important to know that changes in your income can affect your support obligation. It is a common mistake for men who have lost their job or fallen prey to a pay cut, to not ask for a reduction in their child support payment.
For a reduction to be implemented, a motion with the court must be filed that requests a decrease based on the substantial change of circumstances. Even if you have already made a deal with the other parent, it is crucial that there is a court order explicitly modifying your support obligation.
If you don’t have a court order changing the amount you owe every month, you are still obligated to pay the full amount. Not paying the full amount means you are in contempt and racking up debt (plus interest) for the amount not paid. These situations can snowball out of control very quickly.
Not Keeping Proof of Payment
Another common child support mistake is not keeping proof of payment. Regardless of how amicable your relationship with your child’s mother is you should have proof of every dollar that you have paid to support your child.
Your court order should outline how payments are to be made. Payments not made through the approved channels could be construed as a gift and not applied toward your support obligation.
Overlooking Written Orders
Navigating a California child custody case can be challenging and in many circumstances, the devil is in the detail. Written orders explicitly define the specifics of all aspects of your custody agreement.
Responsibilities regarding support payments, tax breaks, medical insurance, and more will all be assigned to both parents. It is critical that you and your attorney proactively advocate for fair and equitable terms.
Assuming it is a Formula
The abundance of child support calculators available online can lead to the common (and grievous) misconception that calculating child support is a simple formula.
There are a lot of factors that can influence your payment obligation and there are a lot of opportunities for errors in making calculations. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through the process and potentially save you from overpaying thousands of dollars a year.