Child Support: What You Should Know

Do you have questions about child support?

Are you wondering how child support is paid?  Well, keep on reading!  In the case of a divorce, child support is generally mandatory.  There are child support laws in every state in the United States.

Why is child support so important?  Take a look at what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has to say about the goals of child support:

1)  To minimize the economic impact on the child of family breakup;

2)  To encourage joint parental responsibility for child support in proportion to, or as a percentage of income;

3)  To provide the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the family been intact;

4)  To meet the child’s survival needs in the first instance, but to the extent either parent enjoys a higher standard of living to entitle the child to enjoy that higher standard;

5)  To protect a subsistence level of income of parents at the low end of the income range whether or not they are on public assistance;

6)  To take into account the non-monetary contributions of both the custodial and non-custodial parents;

7)  To minimize problems of proof for the parties and of administration for the courts; and to allow for orders and wage assignments that can be adjusted as income increases or decreases.

There are three main ways in which child support can be paid.  It is important to understand your options and to choose the method of paying child support that works best for you and your family.

Child support payments can be handled directly amongst spouses; you can use the wage garnishment option or your child-enforcement agency can coordinate child support payments.  Read this post from divorce magazine to ensure that you fully understand the pros and cons to each child support payment option.

Spouse to Spouse

One parent can directly pay the other by cash, check, or money order. This person-to-person method is simple and does not require waiting for any processing time by the state. The receiving parent must keep records and track the payments. Enforcement is more difficult and is not as automatic.

Wage Garnishment

Child support is deducted from the paying spouse’s paycheck and sent either to the receiving spouse or to the state Child Support Enforcement Agency. Garnishment requires an extra step of formally notifying the paying parent’s employer and setting a court date for the garnishment order. The parent receiving the support must handle all of the paperwork. The employer is legally obligated to withhold the support from the paycheck. The advantage of this method is that payment is made automatically. There are several disadvantages. First of all, the paying parent is likely to find it embarrassing, which might escalate hostilities between you. Second, there are limits to how much can be garnished from wages, so you may not be able to get the entire support amount this way. If your spouse is self-employed, you cannot garnish the wages. You also cannot prevent the paying spouse from quitting his job, which then puts you in the position of having to do more legwork to find the new employer and garnish again.

Child-Enforcement Agency

The third option is to have your state child-enforcement agency collect all child support. You can agree to send payment through this organization from the beginning or at any point while child support is being paid. This is also the agency that will assist you in collecting unpaid child support. The advantage of this method is that the receiving parent doesn’t have to do any legwork or keep any records and the parents don’t need to have any contact with each other about child support (which can be helpful if you’re prone to disagreements about this). Payments are automatically increased with the cost of living. The disadvantage is that the agency may take a small percentage of the payment as an administrative fee. The paying spouse may not appreciate this method, as there is absolutely no slack given for late or missed payments. Another disadvantage is that you’re dealing with a government agency, so there is likely to be red tape and backlogs.

Clearly, there are different ways to pay for child support.   Each child support payment option has strong points and negative points.  The bottom line is that you must choose which child support payment option is right for you AND your family.

If you have questions regarding child support, contact us at Revelli & Luzzo today.  Our professional child support attorneys are armed with the experience and knowledge to help you and your family through this difficult time.

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