If you're about to go through a divorce where child custody will be a factor, you may have some misconceptions about how child support works. Here is what you need to know about about giving or receiving child support.
Myth: You Can Waive Child Support
If you are attempting to go through mediation with your spouse, you may feel like you can make joint decisions about most issues and avoid going to court. However, one thing that you cannot decide on in mediation is child support. The court views child support as something that the child receives, not the parent, and you cannot make such a big decision on behalf of a minor.
The court will look at the income that bother parents make and determine how that relates to the child support payments. If both parents make plenty of money and have similar personal incomes, it's completely possible that child support will be waived because the judge feels like it is not necessary. Keep in mind that it is not your decision to make.
Myth: Child Support Payments Are Fixed And Consistent
Do not make the assumption that your future child support payments are a fixed expense that cannot change. This can cause you to mistakenly budget for a lower payment, when you want to anticipate future needs that can increase the child support that you pay. The needs of your child can change as they get older, and it's possible that the amount of child support that is decided upon is not enough.
For example, your child may have an unexpected medical expense that needs to be paid for, and the custodial parent cannot afford it. You may have to make an additional child support payment to cover the extra expenses. Expenses may not even be a 50/50 split, since it could be decided based on a proportion appropriate to how much each parent makes.
Myth: Child Support Guarantees Visitation
If you are told that you need to pay child support, you may assume that this means you will receive visitation rights as well. Be aware that visitation and child support are viewed as two different things, and are not tied to each other. A judge may order you to pay child support, but deny you visitation rights. That said, your former spouse cannot deny you your visitation rights if you are behind on child support payments. It is ultimately up to the courts about how they want to take action against you for missed payments.
Speak to a local family attorney for more details.