To determine the amount of child support, the court uses guidelines set by the Supreme Court. The guidelines take into account such factors as each party's earnings, the state and federal taxes you pay, other mandatory deductions from your pay check like social security, union dues, deductions due to prior judgments or court orders, and health insurance. Guidelines also take into account the number of children needing support and the time you spend with the child or children. After establishing your weekly gross income, the court will take from your gross income the above-named amounts to obtain the amount available to the child for support. All of the numbers not withstanding, there is a rule of thumb that will allow you to "guesstimate" the amount of support you will be required to pay. Child support usually comes out to be twenty-five percent to thirty-three percent
How are payments made?
More and more the court requires one of two methods to collect child support. The first is via wage execution. This means that your employer is ordered to take the money out of your paycheck and forward it to the probation department. The second most popular method of collecting support is payment to the county probation department. This means that you send a money order or certified check to the county probation office. No personal checks allowed! Once the check clears or the money is actually in the probation department's account, The probation office mails the check to the custodial parent.
Third-party Payment: Advantages - Disadvantages
While the system is somewhat cumbersome, it is good for the payer because there are third-party records to document that payments have been made. It is good for the custodial parent-recipient because you know the check is real money, not just a piece of paper. However, the downside is that probation has been known to make mistakes so the paying parent needs to keep track of the money order receipts. The downside for the recipient is that it could take four weeks after the payment is received
It is important to note that child support has nothing to do with visitation. If you don't get the money, you can't stop the non-custodial parent from seeing the children.
Child support obligations are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. This means that if you have the obligation to pay, you will have to pay even if the probation department does not catch up with you until the children are thirty and emancipated. I have seen the court require a parent of adult children, thirty-five and thirty-seven, to pay to the parent who was the custodial parent thousands of dollars.
A failure to pay support results in the court obtaining the right to garnish your wages, take your federal or state tax returns, and arrest you! The penalties can be rather severe. Therefore, make your child support payments timely and pay in full!