Tips for Managing Child Support Payments

July 25, 2017 / 8:00 pm

Marriages may end, but being a parent is a lifetime job. After a divorce, you may be required to pay child support, or you might find that you depend on it to manage your household budget.

While each state has its own guidelines, the amount of child support you pay or receive is calculated using several factors, including:

  • Each parent’s income
  • The child’s standard of living before the divorce
  • Any financial needs that are specific to the child

If you’re someone who makes their child support payments on time, congratulations. You’re in the 50 percent of the divorced population that does so, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

For families in the other 50 percent, not paying child support is no small matter. Not only are there serious legal repercussions for people who don’t pay, missing payments can deprive the children of divorced parents of necessities.

So, in today’s blog post, we’re going to look at the issue from both perspectives, and talk about budgeting for child support payments whether you’re giving or receiving them.

What do when you receive child support

Stick to a budget

Make an estimate of what it costs each month to raise your children: food, housing, clothing, medical expenses, activities. Your ideal monthly budget should be based solely on your income. Any child support you receive is an extra, which you can use for future expenses.

Spend wisely

The law can’t tell you how to spend child support, but it’s still a smart idea to spend sensibly, especially if you have a former spouse who makes late or inconsistent child support payments.

Don’t spend money on yourself

While your ex can’t tell you how to spend child support, he or she could make you defend in court purchases you made for yourself using child support money.

Have things changed? Ask for a modification

Has your ex-wife or ex-husband gotten a raise? Have your hours been cut at work? Has your daughter’s school raised tuition? When changes like this occur, it could be time to formally ask the court for a child support modification.

What to do when you owe child support

Set up regular payments

Unless the court has ruled that your child support payments should be garnished from your salary, you’ll need to establish a system that ensures the payments go through each month. You can do this through your bank, or by working with your local child support office.

Pay something every month

You may not be able to make your payment in full every time, but it’s a good practice to pay at least something each month. This will help you avoid some of the more drastic consequences of missing child support payment, which can include liens against your property, a suspended license – driver’s and professional — and even criminal prosecution.

Ask for a modification

This rule applies to people on both ends of the child support transaction. If you find yourself unable to pay at the same level you once did, it’s time to make a request for a modification.

If you need help arguing for a modification, the attorneys of Penglase & Benson are ready to navigate your child support and custody needs.

With more than 65 years of combined legal expertise, our team is prepared to guide you through these proceedings with compassion and insight, always keeping the best interests of you and your children in mind. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.