Child support payments: the 7 most crucial questions to ask

Parents are obliged to care for their kids. That's why most divorce settlements include child support payments. To provide well for them, here are seven key questions you must ask.

Child support payments: the 7 most crucial questions to ask

1. What is child support?

Child support payments are a sum of money paid regularly by one parent to another in order to provide equally and fairly for the daily needs of a child. This is commonly established in a support order. The creditor is the parent who receives child support, while the debtor is the one who pays.

2. What is the role of the lawyer?

During a court appearance, the family lawyer has to prove the ability of parents to meet the needs of the child, both financially and emotionally. He or she also explains the relationship that the child has with each parent.

3. How are child support payments determined?

Sums are determined according to several criteria:

  • The income of each parent
  • The number of children in common
  • The terms of custody as well as access rights
  • The presence of children born of another union
  • Any additional costs related to special-needs children, if applicable

4. Are payments considered to be income?

Although it may vary by jurisdiction, child support payments are not generally tax deductible for the debtors, and they are not considered as taxable income for the creditors.

5. Can a parent change the amount of the payments?

It is possible to make adjustments, but it is necessary to submit a completed form to the court in order to explain the reasons for the change. The court will then verify that the new amount agreed upon by the parents meets the needs of the child.

6. How are disputes settled?

Sometimes the judgement or agreement does not indicate whether the support payment should be paid to the child or to the creditor parent. In those cases, the payment is always considered to be for the benefit of the child. If a parent cannot pay the full support payment, he or she must prove that the payment is causing him or her "undue hardship". It is then up to the court to decide whether that excuse is justified.

7. Is spousal support (or alimony) different from child support?

Unlike child support, debtors may generally deduct spousal support payments from their taxable income, and creditors must claim them as a source of income.

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