Child Support Attorneys in Birmingham, Alabama
When parents get divorced in Alabama or decide to raise children separately for other reasons, the obligation to provide for a child financially does not end. Instead, parents have an ongoing obligation to provide for their children financially, regardless of what their custody arrangement may be.
When one parent has custody of a child, the court assumes that they are meeting this financial obligation. As such, the non-custodial parent will be ordered to make child support payments. If you are a parent who is seeking child support–or from whom child support is being requested–it’s important that you understand your rights and your options.
To learn more about child support obligations in Alabama and what the law says about when and how much parents are expected to pay, call our law office directly today.
When Will a Court Issue a Child Support Order?
As touched on above, the state of Alabama recognizes that both parents have a financial obligation to support their children. As such, if parents decide to live separate and apart, the court will order the non-custodial child to make child support payments in order to fulfill this obligation.
Typically, a child support order will accompany a child custody order as part of a divorce settlement, but this is not always the case. With or without a divorce settlement, a parent may seek child support payments when they are the primary caregiver for a child because of a separation, as a result of separation due to domestic violence, or because the parents never chose to live together in the first place.
Note that in order for a parent to seek child support payments from the other, paternity, or legal parental rights of the father, must first be established. There is a presumption of paternity when a child is born and the parents of the child are married; if parents are not married, however, paternity must be established.
Paternity can be established by signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or by a court order. Once paternity is established, a father can seek custody of and visitation with their child and may also be held responsible for child support payments.
How Is Child Support Determined?
Once a court determines that a parent is to make child support payments, the next question is for how much those payments should be. The state of Alabama relies on the ‘income shares model’ in order to make decisions about child support obligations. Under the income shares model, the incomes of both parents will be considered. Once the total amount of support that a child should receive per month is determined (per the child support guidelines, discussed below), then each parent will be responsible for that amount proportional to their income.
For example, consider a situation in which parents make a combined total income of $9,500 per month. It is determined that a shared child is entitled to $1,042 in support. Of the $9,500, the non-custodial parent contributes $6,000 of that, or roughly 63 percent. As such, that parent would be responsible for 63 percent of the child support obligation, or about $658 (.63 x 1042). The custodial parent is assumed to be providing their owed amount by virtue of having custody of the child.
The amount that a child should receive each month in support is determined by the Alabama Schedule of Basic Child-Support Obligations. The amount of support is dependent on the gross incomes of the parents, as well as the number of children being supported.
Can I Deviate from the Child Support Obligation?
In most cases, courts will order child support based on the child support guidelines and income shares model discussed above, but there are some circumstances in which deviation from the guidelines may be appropriate. Reasons for deviating from the guidelines might include, but are not limited to, shared physical custody arrangements, high transportation costs related to visitation, college education costs, assets or income of children, childcare costs, and more.
Modifying a Support Order
Once a child support order has been issued by a court, both parents have a legal obligation to adhere to it. Not making child support payments can result in serious consequences. If for some reason you are unable to make child support payments, or if you believe that your child support order is no longer appropriate, you may seek a modification of a child support order.
Do not simply stop making your child support payments, though. Instead, talk to a lawyer about your situation and whether or not modification may be appropriate. Modification may be sought when there has been a significant change in circumstances.
Enforcing a Child Support Order
If a child support order has already been issued and you are entitled to receive child support payments, you have a right to receive those payments on time and in full. If your ex fails to make child support payments, there are enforcement mechanisms that you can pursue. Working with the Alabama Child Support Enforcement Division can help. Reach out to the division directly or call a lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you to understand your rights.
Get Help from an Experienced Child Support Attorney in Alabama
Child support obligations can be confusing to understand, and you may not know how much you’ll owe just by looking at the schedule of support alone. What’s more, you may have questions about whether or not you can deviate from the guidelines, how you can modify an existing support order, and what your rights are if you don’t agree with your ex’s request that you pay child support. You may also want to learn more about how to enforce a child support order.
For all of these questions and more, our experienced child support lawyers in Alabama can help. To learn more about child support obligations and how our attorneys can represent you during the court process, please call our law firm directly or send us a message telling us more about your case. Reach us at (205) 803-3500 today.