Written by Avvo Staff

What are the possible outcomes of a child support case?

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Child support outcomes depend on a range of factors, such as the state where the parents live, the income of each parent, and how many children are involved. While it is impossible to predict the exact outcome of your case, there are some things you should know before you head to court.

Child support: the basics

Usually, the non-custodial parent will pay the custodial parent a set amount of money each month to help care for the child's needs. The amount paid may be set out in a child support agreement or in a court order.

Parents may settle on a child support agreement on their own, but a court may have to review the agreement to make sure it adheres to state laws. It is not uncommon for parents to use a mediator to help them come to an agreement on child support.

If the parents cannot come to an agreement outside of court, a hearing may be necessary, resulting in a child support order. Any future adjustments to the child support arrangement must take place in court.

Calculating child support

Each state has its own regulations regarding child support. However, there are a few things that typically influence how much child support the non-custodial parent must pay:

  • The non-custodial parent's monthly income
  • The custodial parent's monthly income
  • The children's needs
  • The number of children involved
  • The ages of the children

In cases where parents have an informal shared custody agreement, the amount of time spent with the child is also likely to impact child support.

Many states have online calculators you can use to estimate how much child support the non-custodial parent will have to pay.

Consequences for nonpayment

If you become guilty of withholding support payments, enforcement actions may become necessary:

  • Your employer may start withholding the child support from paychecks in order to send it to a child support office.
  • The government may impose property liens or withhold tax refunds.
  • Credit bureaus may become aware of child support debts, making it difficult to open new credit lines or secure a loan for a new vehicle or other major purchase.

When nonpayment becomes severe, federal regulations apply. The guilty party could face heavy fines, travel restrictions, or jail time.

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