Whether married or not, both parents have a continuing legal responsibility to provide financial support to their children. Like most states, Alabama has laid out clear rules to determine the financial duties of single, divorced, or separated parents and for making sure that parents pay child support.
However, the interpretation of these rules can be somewhat complicated. Consult an experienced Alabama family law attorney for assistance if you have trouble navigating through the myriad forms and calculations for child support.
Child support calculations depend on various factors, which vary between states. The below-mentioned aspects are almost always taken into account when determining child support payments in Alabama.
Considering Both Parents’ Income
In the calculation of child support in Alabama, both parents’ actual income and the earning capability of a parent who is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed, is taken into consideration. For instance, an educated parent who is licensed to work as a medical practitioner, but decides to work for only four months in a year, will still have their child support payments calculated based on the figure that they could reasonably earn if they worked throughout the year, based on their training, education, and experience.
The above consideration ensures that child support calculation in Alabama is not unfairly biased when a person chooses to earn less than their earning ability merely to reduce the child support amount due from them.
The parent with the child’s physical custody in Alabama will incur more expenses in taking care of the child, such as clothing, groceries, and extracurricular activities. The calculation of child support aims to ensure that all the needs of the child are met. Therefore, the custodial parent will usually receive child support payments.
But the non-custodial parent could also be entitled to a child support payment, which will depend on the custody arrangement details and if the parents’ incomes are wildly disproportionate.
Age, Number, and Marital Status of Children
It is expensive to raise a child in Alabama. Therefore, child support is determined on the basis of the number of kids that the parents are legally obligated to support. When one child attains the age or status that the parents are not obligated to financially support them any further, the child support figure will be decreased to reflect the fact that the parents are now duty-bound to monetarily support one less child.
In general, child support agreements allow parents to stop financial support when the child attains the age of majority. But some states require that the child graduates from college or marries before the support can end.
Standard of Living of the Child before the Divorce or Separation
Family law courts also assess the standard of living for the child in Alabama. All child custody and support proceedings aim to uphold the child’s best interests. Thus, the court will attempt to ensure that the child achieves the same standard of living after the divorce or separation to mitigate the negative effects and disruption on the child.
The Child’s Needs
Aspects, such as age or medical status, influence the amount of financial support a child requires. For instance, considering a child who is still too small to go to school, the family court will typically direct what part of daycare costs each parent is liable for.
Similarly, a custody agreement will usually determine which parent is responsible for providing medical insurance and how any miscellaneous expenses are to be divided. The court will also direct how additional expenses should be managed for special needs children.
What Other Factors are involved in the Calculation of Child Support in Alabama?
Alabama family law courts are designated “courts of equity.” This means that they can and do take into account all pertinent information and circumstances to ensure the most fair and impartial outcome of the case.
The following factors are commonly taken into consideration:
- Financial support obligations for children from other relationships
- Necessary traveling visitations with the child
- Retirement contributions
Further, it is vital to understand that there are limitations on how frequently child support determinations can be re-calculated as enabling parents to request modifications to child support at any time and as often as they desire could lead to an overload of cases for the judicial system. While the time limit differs between states, it is typically a few years. Therefore, a child support arrangement must be made appropriately the first time itself.
Talk to a Qualified Alabama Family Law Attorney
It is vital to ensure that the interests of the children are upheld during a paternity or divorce case. At Coumanis & York, we have extensive experience in this field and a thorough knowledge of the family law and divorce cases in Alabama.
Our attorneys have a nuanced understanding of laws pertaining to child support. We work closely with our clients to understand and resolve family legal issues in a constructive, positive, and inclusive manner. To speak with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at 251-990-3083.