Everything You Need to Know about Child Support
It can be overwhelming to not fully understand the process of obtaining child support, especially with unique life circumstances. Having knowledge in this area can help you make the best decisions for you and your child. Here are the topics we will be covering that will hopefully shed some light on this topic and give you everything you need to know about child support:
- What is Child Support
- How is Income Calculated for Child Support Purposes?
- Who can get Child Support?
- How Do I get Child Support?
- How Much Child Support can I Get?
- How Do I get the Amount of Child Support Changed?
- If the Other Parent of the Child is Hiding and Avoiding the Sheriff, Can you still get Child Support?
- What if the Father of the Child Claims not to be the Biological Father?
- Do I have to go to court to get a Custody Order before I get the Child Support Order?
- What do I do if the other Parent has not paid Court Ordered Child Support?
- How do I get Child Support if the Other Parent is not Working?
Let’s dive into each question below.
What is Child Support
Child support is an obligation for one or both parents to provide financial support for their children in order to ensure that the children’s needs are met. Child support is usually paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent (the parent with whom the child primarily lives). The amount of child support to be paid is usually determined by state law, often based on the gross income of both parents. Child support payments may be used to cover a variety of expenses, such as food, housing, clothing, medical care, educational costs, extracurricular activities, and other needs. It is important to note that child support is distinct from child custody and visitation arrangements.
Child support in Louisiana is determined using the Louisiana Child Support Guidelines. The amount of support a parent is required to pay is based on the gross income of both parents and the number of children in the family. The guidelines are designed to ensure that the child receives support in an amount that is commensurate with the parents’ incomes. Parents may also be required to provide medical insurance for the child, pay a portion of any uninsured medical expenses and other educational and extra-curricular expenses.
How is Income Calculated for Child Support Purposes?
Child support is calculated using the gross income of the parents. Gross income is income from any source, including but not limited to salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, recurring monetary gifts, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, basic and variable allowances for housing and subsistence from military pay and benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disaster unemployment assistance received from the United States Department of Labor, disability insurance benefits, and spousal support received from a preexisting spousal support obligation; Expense reimbursement or in-kind payments received by a parent in the course of employment, self-employment, or operation of a business, if the reimbursements or payments are significant and reduce the parent’s personal living expenses.
An overwhelming majority of cases involves two parents who received their income in the form of W-2 wages, and gross income is the income before taxes and other deductions. In those cases, determining gross income is not usually rather simple. However, determining gross income for self-employed parents is significantly more complicated.
Who can get Child Support?
In Louisiana, either parent can get child support payments from the other parent. The parent may be married, unmarried, or divorced. The parent that is not the primary caretaker of the child is usually the one that will be required to make the payments. Child support can also be requested by a parent or guardian who has primary physical custody of the child. The parent or guardian must be able to prove that the other parent or guardian is financially responsible for the child’s well-being.
The amount of payments is determined by the court and is based on a number of factors, such as the income of both parents and the needs of the child.
Nonparents such as grandparents may get child support from the biological parents if they have legal custody of a child; however, to receive child support, grandparents may need to file a petition in court and provide evidence of their legal custody or guardianship. Additionally, the grandparents may need to show that the parent is not providing financial support for the child.
How Do I get Child Support?
You can get child support by filing a petition with the court. The court will consider several factors, such as the amount of time the child spends with each parent, the child’s financial needs, and the parents’ incomes. Once a child support order is in place, the paying parent must make the payments to the other parent.
How Much Child Support can I Get?
It depends on
• the number of children you have with the other parent,
• your income,
• the other parent’s income, and
• the kind of custody you have of the child (shared or not).
Child support in Louisiana is based on the need of the child or children and the ability of the other parent to pay child support.
How Do I get the Amount of Child Support Changed?
You may get the amount of child support changed if there is a material change of circumstances (this is when the custody arrangement is changed, yours or the other parent’s income has changed, or there have been other big changes in your family life). For example: instead of having shared custody, the other parent sees the child much less than 50% of the time in a year and the child lives with you more now. You may get the child support order changed to get more money.
If the Other Parent of the Child is Hiding and Avoiding the Sheriff, Can you still get Child Support?
Yes, you can. It may just take a longer time for you to get child support based on the circumstances involved. Often, a privately hired process server can locate and serve the other parent the court papers seeking child support. But as a last resort, the court may appoint a curator ad hoc (someone to represent the absent parent). The curator ad hoc will be served with the court papers and will represent the absent parent at the child support hearing. The curator ad hoc will try to let absent parent know that there is a child support hearing coming up. Once that is done by the curator, your attorney will be able to ask the court to order child support.
What if the Father of the Child Claims not to be the Biological Father?
You need to prove he is the father by asking the court to order or require him to take a DNA test. If he is found not to be the father of your child, then he does not have to pay for the testing or the child support.
Do I have to go to court to get a Custody Order before I get the Child Support Order?
Not necessarily. However, establishing custody and support can be done at the same time, and it often saves time and money to establish custody while seeking child support.
What do I do if the other Parent has not paid Court Ordered Child Support?
If the other parent will not pay court ordered child support, you can file a Rule for Contempt. The other parent will be called back into court for a contempt hearing. If the other parent is held in contempt for not paying child support, the court can order that parent make a lump sum payment, add an additional amount to be paid each month, and pay your court costs and attorney’s fees.
How do I get Child Support if the Other Parent is not Working?
The court will order the other parent to pay child support based on the minimum wage or based on their past earning capacity or potential earning capacity (that is, what he or she used to earn, or is capable of earning).
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