There are three areas of family law that cause particular difficulties in a high number of cases: spousal support, child custody , and child support. Child support is calculated through a state mandated child support formula. This formula has been incorporated into various computer programs. The calculation of support is primarily calculated by the following factors:
- The parties’ gross incomes
- The number of children
- The percentage of timeshare (percentage of time in physical custody of the child)
A number of other factors are entered to arrive accurately at the proper child support figure, but the above factors generally have the greatest impact on the final amount.
Child support isn’t exclusive to divorce, and there are other family situations where the court may order child support, such as during:
- Paternity suits, where parentage is determined
- Legal separation, not involving divorce
- Domestic violence, resulting in a restraining order against the parent
Special problems arise when child support isn’t being paid. A custodial parent can seek assistance from the local District Attorney’s office, and the District Attorney will collect child support for the parent. The District Attorney may also collect child support to reimburse welfare agencies that are providing assistance when child support isn’t being paid. Contempt actions can be brought against the parent who is neglecting child support, resulting in penalties for noncompliance with the court.
Unpaid Child support continues to accrue. Money owed for child support is generally non-dischargeable in bankruptcy and accumulates interest at the maximum legal rate. People owing child support payments can lose their drivers license, professional licenses, and have their wages and tax returns garnished. Additionally, the delinquent payments and money owed can be reported to various credit reporting agencies. In more extreme cases, police task forces seek out and post pictures of “deadbeat dads” in local post offices in an effort to apprehend the debtor. These issues will not resolve themselves and must be confronted as quickly as possible to minimize escalation resulting in possible criminal convictions, jail sentences, and sanctions.