Child support can be a point of contention for divorcing couples or co-parents trying to negotiate fair parenting terms. It can be particularly challenging for high net worth couples whose incomes fall outside state child support guidelines, as this creates a gray area where both parties have to negotiate on their own. If you earn more than your co-parent, you may wonder what is “enough” child support and if you should ever pay above court-ordered guidelines.
As you navigate the legal challenges of co-parenting, know that you don’t have to do this alone. Set up a consultation with Kirk Drennan Law now by calling us at 205-803-3500.
Significant Differences in Income or Parenting Time
If there are significant differences in parenting time or income, it might make sense to pay above court-ordered child support. No matter how much financial support one parent provides, the time and effort involved in parenting is enormous and no money can make up for that. This is often the case when one parent is a high-powered executive or travels a lot for work. Since they cannot take a 50/50 schedule, they may pay more in child support to help the stay-at-home parent continue to provide care without returning to work.
Negotiation Tool During Divorce
As you work through the divorce process, you may choose to pay more in child support as a way to get something else you want in the divorce. For many parents who receive child support, their primary goal is to ensure that their children enjoy the same lifestyle that they did during the marriage. By paying above child support guidelines, you may be able to retain ownership of your business, keep the marital home, or shift the division of assets in your favor.
Extenuating Circumstances Affecting Your Child’s Needs
Child support guidelines are just that—guidelines. They are not rules written in stone, never to be changed for as long as the need for child support exists. Every child is different, and so every child’s financial needs are different. If your children have circumstances that make them need more support, and you are able to provide that support, it may make sense to agree to pay more upfront.
Consider, for example, a child with a serious medical condition or significant special needs. The cost of taking a child to appointments and the need for flexibility may leave the custodial parent unable to work a regular job, and child support could be extremely helpful. A child with significant special needs will likely require extra therapeutic support, doctors’ appointments, after school care, and other types of support. Extra child support can improve the child’s life and the life of your co-parent.
Putting Your Child’s Best Interests First
Simply put, think about whether or not paying above the child support guidelines would improve your child’s standard of living. The answer isn’t always yes—if you have reason to believe that your children are going without while your co-parent uses child support to enrich themselves, paying more child support may not make a difference. However, in the majority of cases, paying extra child support does benefit your child.
Does your child have expensive activities they picked up when you and your co-parent lived together, such as horseback riding, foreign language lessons, or private tutoring? Does their private school cost so much that your co-parent will be unable to pay it on their own? Do they have other expenses that are a necessary part of keeping up with their peers? If so, you could make a big difference in their life by paying a little more each month. It’s the kind of agreement that can really help your child and co-parent while having a modest impact on your own financial situation.
Discuss Your Options with Kirk Drennan Law Now
When it comes to child support, there are no one-size-fits-all answers. That’s why it’s important to discuss your options with an attorney. The team at Kirk Drennan Law can help you set your priorities and navigate these negotiations. Take the first step now by calling us at 205-803-3500 or .