Financial security is important for children, especially if their parents are divorced. Living and moving between two different households can be hard for kids, but child support can make things easier by providing relatively similar standards of life. This is why it is extremely important that parents not only pay child support, but that judges order the correct amount.
The idea of paying child support can sometimes be uncomfortable. You might feel worried about paying your ex-spouse and wonder whether he or she will use the money exclusively for things pertaining to your child. Here are a few things you should know about child support that might make you feel better about having to pay.
What should child support cover?
Depending on your situation and your child's needs, child support can cover any number of costs. Common financial needs that child support addresses include housing, clothing, food, health care and transportation. These are some of your child's basic needs, so it makes sense that child support should help pay for them.
You might be surprised to learn that your support payments can also help provide entertainment for your child. This can help balance out their standard of life at both your house and their other parent's house. Your child's extracurricular activities could also factor into how much child support you pay.
How will I know how much to pay?
A judge will usually be the one who sets your child support amount. This will happen during your divorce and should also be in your divorce decree. Determining how much you will pay is not an arbitrary decision, though. Both your and your ex's incomes are important factors when figuring out child support. These are not the only deciding factors, though. A judge will also consider the custodial parent's cost of living and what your child's standard of living would have been if you had never gotten divorced.
The process can vary slightly if you share joint custody. If you and your ex have equal amounts of parenting time, a judge might decide that no one owes anyone child support. If one parent spends more time with your child than the other, or if you have significantly different incomes, then one of you may still have to pay child support.
Your child's financial security is important
You may not want to have anything to do with your ex after divorce, especially if it involves giving them money. However, child support is not something that benefits your ex-spouse. Child support gives your children the financial security that they need to thrive.
If you believe that you are paying too much in child support or are having trouble keeping up with payments, you have options. You can petition the court and ask a judge to modify your current order. This is not something that you should put off, as not paying your support could mean that you are in contempt of court. Speaking with an experienced family law attorney in New Jersey can be a good step if you are struggling with determining or modifying child support.