Child Support and Parental Obligations
Child support is one of the most difficult issues divorcing parents need to settle. It refers to the amount of financial assistance the non-custodial parent, also known as the obligor, ought to pay to the obligee, that is, the custodial parent, the guardian, the caregiver or, in the absence of all these, the state – for the support of the child.
Parents are legally obligated to support their biological children after divorce. This legal responsibility is recognized worldwide, especially by the nations which are members of the UN. In the US, this parental obligation is further enforced by the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, which also enumerates the factors that ought to be considered when resolving child support issues.
The financial support is supposed to help cover the basic needs of the child, such as food, shelter, clothing, education and health care; it is usually paid only until the child’s 18th birthday, or until they finish high school. Some of the factors considered in resolving the issue include the present income of the parents (income includes wages, commissions, dividends, workers’ compensation benefits, and unemployment benefits, among other things), the age and needs of the child, the parent’s capacity to contribute to child support, and the cost of the child’s needs.
Besides the monthly or periodic payments by the obligor, he or she may also be asked by the court to contribute to the child’s future financial activities and needs, such as vacation, camp, dental and medical care, and school expenses. There is no specific federal ruling, though, regarding the necessity of support for children who have already reached the age of 18 but still want to pursue higher education; nor is there a final court ruling regarding the continuity of the payment of support upon the death of the obligor or non-custodial parent.
The factors considered and the rules governing child support vary from state to state. Consult with an experienced child support lawyer to learn more about this issue.