Dissolving a marriage or a relationship does not end parental rights or obligations. If anything, it makes them more important than ever. Alabama courts consider children to be innocent parties when a divorce takes place. Therefore, their needs should still be met, even if it is at the sacrifice of the legal parents. One of the ways the courts accomplish this is to ensure both parents are financially responsible for their children. This often means one parent pays child support to the other parent.
Unfortunately, child support can be an extremely volatile issue between parents who are getting divorced or otherwise separating. By hiring a Huntsville child support attorney to represent your interests, you can be assured that you have a dedicated advocate that will work tirelessly to get the money you need to support your children.
Alabama Child Support Guidelines
A child’s financial needs do not go away when their parents split. They still have educational, medical, and other expenses related to their all-around well-being that must be paid. Alabama’s family courts know that each family is unique with different financial abilities and needs. Alabama’s Child Support Guidelines provide a foundation for judges to base their child support decisions on, but other circumstances can also guide their rulings. Your Huntsville child support lawyer can advise you as to whether you might have extenuating circumstances that a judge would consider in determining child support for your family.
Alabama uses an income shares model for child support. This model aims to give children the same financial provision they would have had if their parents were still together. This concept assumes that if a family is unbroken, the parents will combine their incomes to benefit the entire household, which includes their children.
With the income shares model, the monetary amount that parents would have spent on their children if their relationship was still intact is split proportionately by each parent’s individual income. By doing this, the higher-earning parent pays more than the lesser earning parent.
Calculating Child Support Payments
To determine how much child support you could receive or be ordered to pay for your children, a four-step process can be applied. First, add your gross income to that of the child’s other parent. Then reference the Alabama Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations chart to locate the number of children you have and the total income. Next, determine the amount of the child support obligation. Be sure to include expenses such as healthcare, childcare, and health insurance premiums.
Finally, each parent’s child support obligation is calculated with their gross income. It is assumed that the parent with primary custody will directly pay their portion of child support as they care for the children when in their custody. When trying to ascertain how much child support you could receive or must pay, it is best to work with a knowledgeable Huntsville child support attorney.
Are There Exceptions to the Child Support Guidelines?
No two child support cases are identical. As such, there are provisions that allow exceptions to the income shares model that Alabama family courts utilize. Factors that may cause a deviation in standard child support calculations include:
- You have shared custody or extensive visitation rights with your children
- One parent pays for more in transportation costs related to visitation
- One or more children earn, receive, or inherit significant income or assets
- If the children incur college education expenses before they are 18 years of age
- Other extenuating conditions considered by the family court that are in the best
In some cases, the court will deviate from the usual standards for other reasons than these factors. On the contrary, they could also adhere to the standards even when a deviation should be granted. This is why you need an experienced Huntsville child support lawyer on your side when you are working on child support orders.
Are Child Support Modifications Allowed?
Not only do courts recognize that there may be extenuating circumstances that demand a deviation from the state’s child support guidelines, but they also recognize that circumstances can change. While child support orders are meant to be permanent until the child is no longer a minor, you can ask the court to modify child support if there are certain changes with either parent’s financial situation or the child’s financial needs. Examples of circumstances that might warrant a modification to child support include:
- A change of income for either parent such as a raise, promotion or even a job loss
- A change in child custody
- A change in expenses for the child, for example, they might need braces or no longer need childcare
- New family obligations for one of the parents such as a new marriage or having more children
- A bankruptcy filing for the non-custodial parent
- One parent received an inheritance
You must contact a skilled Huntsville child support attorney as soon as possible if your financial circumstances have changed. You cannot simply stop paying child support or pay a lesser amount without an order from the court. Not paying child support as you have been ordered to do so can result in severe legal and financial consequences.
Likewise, if you believe there has been a change of circumstances that warrants higher child support payments from your child’s other parent, a Huntsville child support lawyer can help you explore this possibility.
Schedule Your Consultation with a Knowledgeable Huntsville Child Support Attorney Today
Child support is generally a divisive topic in a divorce situation. When you need a Huntsville child support lawyer, look no further than Cloud, Ryan & Rouse. Whether you are the one paying or receiving child support, our team of dedicated attorneys is here for you. We have helped many people in your same situation. We take the time to explain the laws and other important factors to consider and help you pursue your child support goals.
To set up a confidential case evaluation, call us at 256-801-1000 or use our convenient online contact form. We serve parents throughout the Huntsville area.