Child custody and child support are separate but related issues. The way child support is decided is different from how child custody is decided. Regardless of whether or not you are the custodial parent, you are still obligated to provide for your child.
You’ve probably heard plenty of horror stories of non-custodial parents being taken advantage of and made to pay an exorbitant amount of child support. Don’t pay any attention to these stories. Make sure you learn the real facts about child support payments and that you follow the court’s decision regarding payment. Disregarding your financial obligation to your children could have major consequences.
The 40 Percent Rule for Child Support
The amount of child support owed will depend on several factors, including something called “the 40% rule.” This states that shared custody of your children exists when each of you has access or custody for at least 40% of the time; specifically, for at least 146 days or 3,504 hours per year. If this is your situation, then the Federal Child Support Guidelines will allow the court to make decisions outside of the standard rules.
The specific amount of child support that will be owed also depends on the number of children you have and the income levels of you and your ex. There is no specific formula that applies to every family, and the courts will make their decisions based on your specific circumstances. Judges will make every effort to be fair and to work in the best interests of the children. Support payments will end when each child turns 18, unless they have a disability or illness or are attending school full-time.
Sometimes, a parent will seek shared custody in an attempt to lower their child support payments. Family court judges have seen this happen before, and it’s unlikely that they’ll be fooled. If a judge believes you are only seeking increased custody to reduce the amount of support you owe and not because you genuinely want custody of your child, this can negatively affect your case.
Child Support and Child Custody Are Separate Issues
Although child support is affected by custody, they are still separate legal issues. If the non-custodial parent stops paying child support, it does not mean that access to the children will be withheld. The reverse is also true: regular child support payments do not automatically entitle a parent to access the child. The amount of time the children spend with each parent is decided based on the best interests of the children, not the amount of support each parent may owe.
If one parent wants to limit or even stop the amount of time the children spend with the other parent, they must go to the courts to request this change. You cannot unilaterally change the custody arrangement without the court’s authorization, and you must be able to provide a good reason for the change, such as abuse or neglect. Nonpayment of support is not a reason to withhold access to your children. If you do stop your ex’s visitation rights without a court order, it can cause the judge to take a negative view of your request.
Consequences of Non-Payment of Child Support
So what does happen if you fall behind in your child support payments? There are several methods used to enforce regular support payments, and the consequences of nonpayment may include:
- Garnishment of wages
- Garnishment of bank accounts
- Seizure of tax refunds
- Suspension of passport or federal licenses
If these measures don’t succeed and you continue to neglect your child support payments, you could end up serving jail time. So if your circumstances change and you find it difficult to make your payments regularly, contact the court immediately to make new arrangements.
Contact Galbraith Family Law for Help With Child Support Issues
Being able to spend time with both parents is a child’s right, and both parents hold the responsibility to provide financial support for their children. If you and your spouse are separating and you need further advice, contact the professionals at Galbraith Family Law. You can send a message through our website or give us a call. In Newmarket, our phone number is (289) 802-2433; in Barrie, call (705) 302-1102.