When Does Dad Have to Pay Child Support in a Divorce?

An image of a child clinging closely to her dad.

In a divorce, it is not uncommon for one parent (usually the father) to be responsible for paying child support. But how does the court decide whether it is necessary for a dad to pay child support and if so, how much? What factors into the decision? Let’s take a look.

What Does Child Support Cover?

There is a misconception that child support only covers the bare necessities of a child, like food and clothing. However, this is only a part of “basic child support obligation.” Aside from the necessities, there are also general costs to consider, like health insurance and other mandatory add-on costs, wherever applicable.

Child Support Guidelines

In most cases, courts determine the amount of child support based on the income and expenses of both parents. Some states have specific guidelines that calculate child support payments based on these factors such as gross monthly income, number of children living with each parent, medical insurance premiums and childcare costs. These guidelines often take into account any extra expenses such as extracurricular activities or medical bills that might arise during that time period as well.

Calculating basic child support obligation

In a divorce, agreements and settlements can already include support obligation arrangements. First, establish the cost of raising children in the area; this can be acquired with research and conversations with others who are familiar with the costs. Keep in mind though, that “raising children” includes other things aside from the necessities, and should also be factored in.

Second, determine each parent’s net income, subtracting taxes and other qualified deductions from their gross income. Finally, decide upon an agreed percentage of how much you both think is fair for the supporting parent to contribute.

This agreement can be done as part of the proceedings, with the help of divorce attorneys who are also experts in the area. This is because while it has been settled amicably, there may be some mandatory factors to consider, like checking if the amount for the obligation passes the minimum child support levels.

However, there may be some specific considerations depending on your state. In New York, for example, the calculation for the obligation is equal to the combined net income of both parents, multiplied by a specific percentage depending on the number of children to be supported. The percentage is as follows:

  • 17% of the combined income for a child
  • 25% of the combined income for two children
  • 29% of the combined income for three children
  • 31% of the combined income for four children

The amount is then divided between the parents, their share proportional to their individual incomes.

Temporary vs Permanent

Supporting the children may also be either temporary or permanent.

In a temporary child support order, there is no other agreement between the parents on how the child should be supported financially or when a court has not yet made a final decision on how much financial support should be paid by either parent.

Meanwhile, permanent child support orders can be granted by a judge for up to 18 years after the child graduates from high school or turns 18, whichever comes first. This order can also be modified if there are any changes in circumstances that would warrant it (e.g. one parent moves out of state).

A family is seen to be discussing some things with someone who appears to be their lawyer.

When does a father pay child support?

In many states, both parents are legally obligated to financially provide for their children. However, there are certain cases where the noncustodial parent may be required to pay child support. Generally, this applies when one parent (the custodial parent) has custody of the children more than 50% of the time. The other parent (the noncustodial parent) will usually have to pay child support as part of their divorce agreement or court order.

Since there are fewer custodial fathers than noncustodial ones, it is common that fathers were the ones paying child support.

Non-Custodial Parental Rights

However, the court may also consider other factors when determining whether a dad should have to pay child support such as parental rights and visitation agreements. If a father has significant parenting time with his children, he may be able to argue that he should not have to pay full child support because he is providing care outside of just financial assistance. In this case, the court may reduce his obligation depending on how much time he spends with his kids each month compared to how much time they spend with their mother.

Ultimately, deciding whether a dad should have to pay child support in a divorce depends on different factors including income levels, visitation schedules and parental rights. The court will take all these factors into consideration before making its decision about who pays and how much is necessary for adequate financial assistance for the children involved in the case.

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