July 20th, 2022
child support: what it is and what it isn't
As you go through divorce, it’s important to understand what child support is. In this blog post, we'll explore the ins and outs of child support so that you can avoid any potential misunderstandings down the line.
Child Support is Calculated Using a Formula
In the United States, child support is typically calculated using a formula that considers both parents' income, the number of overnights with each parents per year, the amount a parent pays for medical insurance and the number of children involved. The specific formula varies from state to state, but the general idea is that the parent with the higher income will pay child support to the parent with the lower income. Child support is intended to cover food, clothing and housing. Other child-related expenses must be worked out between the parents and put into their agreement.
Child Support Isn't Tax-Deductible
Many people are surprised to learn that child support payments are not tax-deductible. This is because the payments are intended to cover the costs of raising a child, which are not considered business expenses. The IRS considers child support a personal expense, like rent or groceries.
Failure To Pay Child Support Brings In Legal Consequences
If you fall behind on child support payments, the other parent may take you to court. The court may then order that your wages be garnished or that your bank accounts be frozen. You may even be ordered to pay a fine or go to jail. In some cases, your driver's license may be suspended.
The Age that Child Support Ends Varies by State
In the United States, the age a child is emancipated, or becomes an adult in the court’s opinion, is when child support ends. This age varies by state - for example, in Colorado, child support ends when a child is 19 years old and in New Jersey child support ends when a child graduates from college, if the child is attending college. In many states child support ends when a child reaches 18 years old or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. There are exceptions to these rules, such as if the child has a disability that prevents them from becoming self-sufficient.
College Expenses Are Not Included In The Calculation
The cost of college is a major expense that is not included in the child support calculation. This can burden parents struggling to pay for their child's education.
There are a few reasons why college expenses are not typically included in child support calculations:
Having No Job Doesn't Mean A Parent Doesn’t Have To Pay Child Support
A parent is responsible for paying child support if they don't have a job. The court will consider many factors when determining the ability to pay, including the parent’s income, assets, and expenses. How much the parent pays is based on their ability to pay, not their employment status. If the parent doesn’t have a job, the court may impute income based on their past or potential earnings.
It’s important for parents going through divorce to understand what child support is, how to calculate it and what it doesn’t cover. You can find your state’s child support calculator and input the information that’s needed to get a good idea what child support amount you’re going to pay or receive. Once you know the child support amount, you can then calculate the other pieces of your financial picture. Understanding child support is a critical part of your overall financial settlement. If you need help with any of this, reach out to an experienced divorce coach who can walk you through all of this.
Jill Barnett Kaufman is a Divorce Coach, Therapist, Parent Educator and Divorce Mediator. She is an experienced professional who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges when considering divorce, starting the process of divorce or are already divorced.