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Understanding the basics of child support

Many non-custodial parents are ordered by the court to contribute financially to their children's care and upbringing. Child support laws vary by state; so, any parent with concerns will first want to seek clarification of the particular guidelines governing the state in which he or she resides. Often, people with questions turn to experienced family law attorneys for guidance in such matters.

In contentious situations, it often helps a paying parent to remember that the child is the one entitled to the money, even though the payments are being sent to the other parent, or (in cases where neither parent has physical custody) to a third party. Some estimates suggest that at least a quarter of children in the United States are born out of wedlock. For those whose parents are married, many wind up having to adjust to new lifestyles when parents divorce. The number of children involved, the income of the paying parent and other factors are taken into consideration when the court determines how much child support should be paid.

Various circumstances may prompt the court to modify an existing order, either increasing or decreasing payments. A raise or lowering of a custodial or non-custodial parent's income may have something to do with the court's decision. Although there are certain guidelines followed when ruling on such issues, the court is somewhat free to consider every situation in its own light, formulating a customized plan that best suits the needs of a particular family in keeping with the best interests of the children.

Many times, child support problems can be resolved through amicable negotiations between both parents. However, some situations involve a parent who refuses to cooperate, thereby creating complications and stress for all. The court has the final say in such matters, and acting alongside experienced guidance may increase one's chances of obtaining a positive outcome.

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