When a relationship ends, through divorce or otherwise, there may be several issues that each person has to contend with. If children are part of the relationship, arrangements for child custody or child support may need to be made. Most parents here in California want to be sure that their children are cared for, and that often translates to child support payments made from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. However, child support can often leave parents with more questions than answers.
Child support, administered by the state, is an amount of money that one parent agrees to pay to the other in order to financially support any shared children. It was originally designed to improve the lives of children who came from divorced families, or who were deserted by one of their parents. Experts say that child support payments decrease poverty and reduce the likelihood that a custodial parent will need to use public assistance programs. The amount paid is determined based on the paying parent’s level of income or earning potential, though an average amount according to the U.S. Census Bureau is $500 per month.
Statistics show that almost six million parents across the United States make child support payments, with the vast majority being fathers. Almost a third of those entitled to child support received no payments in 2015, and less than half received the full amount that was ordered. If a parent fails to pay for whatever reason, there are several ways for the other parent to get what is owed — wages, benefits and other forms of income can be withheld; the parent can be reported to credit bureaus; a parent’s driver’s license can be suspended; or he or she could face criminal or civil charges.
If one parent is resisting making child support payments, federal and state agencies exist that can assist in establishing paternity or maternity. California parents can have a child support agreement made as part of their divorce, or through a court order. Anyone who is having difficulty paying or collecting child support payments may wish to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney who can advise him or her of all the legal rights and options available.