If you are a parent heading for divorce, some of the most difficult issues you will tackle are those involving your children. Reaching decisions about where the children will live and how their lives will change can be emotional and challenging. If your divorce is contentious, you may have little choice but to bring these matters to court although the ideal is to work them out with the other parent.
One weighty issue to resolve is child support. Child support is such an important obligation for parents that California law includes mandatory calculations to ensure the child involved obtains enough to maintain a quality standard of living following the parents’ breakup. Child support is typically based on the income of the parents. Whether you expect to receive or pay support, you want the amount to be fair, and you want to know exactly how the court expects the receiving parent to use the money.
Where should the money go?
Negotiating child support payments allows parents to decide certain other issues, like which parent will be responsible for any expenses related to your child’s hobbies and how you will save for college. In general, however, child support will pay for your child’s basic needs including many of the following expenses and others:
- Rent or mortgage payments and utilities for the home where the child lives
- Groceries and other daily necessities
- Clothing for the child
- Books and toys, as well as furniture the child may need
- School supplies, including the costs associated with field trips, sports, music lessons or other extracurricular activities
- Summer camp or other activities in which your child may be interested
The paying parent may also supply support money for medical expenses, eye and dental care, or include the child on his or her health insurance plan. Child support money should not pay for any expense that is not associated with the child. For example, if you receive payment, you should not use it to buy yourself clothing or get your hair done. Even if money is left over from the previous month, you should not use the money for vacations or entertainment that does not include your child.
You may have many questions and concerns about child support, including how to obtain a fair order, how to seek a modification of the amount if necessary or how to get the other parent to comply with court ordered payments. Discussing your situation with an experienced attorney may provide those answers.