In any divorce where one parent is given primary custody of a child, the question of child support will inevitably arise. The decision of a judge to award child support is a major one, which can have significant financial consequences for both spouses. But what exactly is child support, and when does a judge decide that it is appropriate?
Explaining Child Support
In simple terms, child support is a type of payment that a court can grant to the custodial parent (the parent that is given primary custody over a child) in a divorce. This payment is intended to help cover the various expenses that are necessary to raise a child, including the cost of food, clothing, education, and medical expenses, among other things. While both sides can argue for, or against, support payments, the decision about whether it is awarded, and in what amount, is ultimately up to the court.
Factors That Go Into Deciding Child Support
The question of whether to award child support, and in what amount, is usually an economic question. If the custodial parent has significantly more income than the non-custodial parent, then a judge will normally refrain from imposing these payments. On the other hand, if the non-custodial parent has significantly more income, or they are roughly equal in terms of their income, a judge is much more likely to consider it worthwhile. The court will refrain from imposing these payments if the non-custodial parent is unable to afford them.
Child Support in Shared Custody Arrangements
It is not only imposed in situations where one parent has sole custody over the couple’s children. It may also be imposed in situations where there is some kind of shared custody arrangement, such as one parent getting the children during certain days and the other parent getting them other days, or each parent alternating custody each week. When this happens, the judge may designate one parent as the “primary” custodial parent, usually whichever parent has the child more often.
Having Child Support Adjusted
When child support is awarded, that is not the end of the conversation. It can be adjusted at any time by appealing to the court and demonstrating that it should be changed, usually to reflect some change in either parent’s economic circumstances. For example, it may be lowered if the non-custodial parent loses some significant part of their income, or it may be raised if they see a sudden increase in their economic fortunes. Only the court may decide whether these adjustments are appropriate, however.
If you have questions regarding equitable distribution or other aspects of family law, you should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling these matters. A New York matrimonial lawyer, who is experienced in handling family law cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you are facing a dispute related to the equitable distribution of property, child custody, child support, or any other family law issue, contact the Suffolk County family court lawyers at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702 or visit our contact page.