Much of the information the average person believes he or she knows about child support is based on rumor, myth and what they saw on TV. This type of misinformation can set parents up to feel disappointed when their case is finally over. Here are the most common misconceptions many parents have when they consult an attorney regarding child support.
#1: Child Support Payments Must Be Spent On the Child
Child support is meant to provide for a child’s overall care and wellbeing. This means that the payments can be spent on anything the child needs—from food and clothing to the rent and utility bills. Courts trust that parents receiving child support will use that money in the best interests of their children, and will rarely get involve in how a parent spends that support money. Absent evidence that the children’s needs are being neglected, most parents who pay child support have little control over how the person receiving support spends it.
#2: I Can’t Be Forced To Pay Child Support If I’m Unemployed
A court can order a parent to pay child support even if he or she is unemployed. Courts are allowed to impute the amount of money that a parent should be making, given his or her experience and education, and will require that parent to make child support payments based on the imputed income. It will be up to that parent to find a job, borrow money, or modify the child support order. However, unless or until the child support order is changed, unemployed parents will still have an obligation to make their support payments.
#3: I Can Deduct Child Support On My Taxes
Parents who pay child support cannot deduct these payments from their income taxes. Likewise, parents who receive child support payments do not include this money as part of their income. While children give their parents additional exemptions on their taxes, child support information is not included in this calculation.
#4: You Don’t Have To Pay Child Support If The Parents Agree
Even if neither parent needs child support in order to care for the children, the court is still required to make sure there is a child support plan in place. Washington state law requires that divorced parents provide a certain minimum level of financial support, even if both parents are financially secure enough that support is unnecessary. While parents are free to work out an arrangement that is as equitable as possible, one parent will still be required to make some type of support payments to the other.
#5: Child Support Is A Fixed Payment You Make Once A Month
Child support comes in many forms. While many parents do only make a once-a-month payment, others pay part of their child support by covering other expenses, like school tuition, health insurance premiums, or daycare costs. These parents may need to make multiple payments to multiple sources depending on the Child Support Order.
If you have questions about how child support works or want to change the amount of your current child support payments, the attorneys at Pacific Northwest Family Law can help. Our knowledgeable family law attorneys will help you and your former partner create a child support plan that protects your family and is fair to everyone involved. To learn more about how Pacific Northwest Family Law can help, contact our office today by calling 509-572-3700.