Truths Behind Child Support Myths

Child support is a topic that many parents are familiar with on some level. However, a number of myths surround this topic, and some of what people think to be fact might actually be inaccurate. As someone who makes or receives child support payments, you should comb through the myths and get to know the true facts. This will help you to gain a better understanding of what child support is so that you can better uphold your child's best interests. Take a look at the truths behind a few common myths surrounding child support.

Truth: Child support payment totals are calculated based on guidelines specific to your state.

Some people believe that child support payment totals are always calculated the same way regardless of factors like location. Other people believe that parents can simply decide on their own how much to pay in child support. Both of these myths are debunked by the fact that each state has its own specific guidelines for calculating how much child support needs to be paid within a family. These guidelines focus on upholding the best interests of children as well as to maintain their lifestyle as closely to what they have been used to prior to the parents' split. To calculate child support, many states uses a formula that considers factors like the income of each parent; the child's expenses for things like education and health care; the amount of time that each parent spend with their child; and more. While the formulas and guidelines are somewhat similar across the board, there may be specific differences which vary from state to state. This makes it very important that you understand the guidelines specific to your state so that you are clear about how your child support payment totals were calculated. 

Truth: It is possible for child support payment totals to be reviewed and adjusted.

Once child support payment totals are calculated and approved by the court, they will be enforced at those amounts. Nevertheless, the belief that these initial totals are forever concrete isn't completely accurate. Parents can request the court to review and adjust their child support payment totals if circumstances call for it. Child support payments are meant to support parents as they uphold the best interests of their child. As a child grows older and their needs change, so will their expenses. Depending on how their needs change, it may also call for child support payment totals to increase or decrease. If you're making or receiving child support and feel as though the payment totals should be adjusted to better fit your child's needs, speak with your attorney. They can help you to understand what the process of requesting a review would entail in your state. 

Truth: Parents with shared custody may still deal with child support payments. 

"Shared custody" is a term with layers of meaning. It can be broken down into two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody often refers to a parent's responsibility to make important decisions for their child on issues like where they go to school, what medical treatment they receive, which religion they practice, etc. These responsibilities are often shared by parents unless the court finds a strong enough reason not to rule otherwise. Physical custody refers to the amount of time that a parent physically spends with their child, otherwise known as parenting time. If physical custody is shared, child support payment totals will be somewhat influenced by the amount of parenting time that each parent is granted. Even if parenting time is shared equally between parents, it is still possible that one parent will make child support payments to the other. It will come down to the guidelines in each state and what they look at specifically in order to determine how much child support payments will be within a family.

Truth: Child support payments may not be enough to cover all of a child's expenses. 

Child support payments are made in order for parents to better cover all of the costs of raising a child even if they aren't together anymore. One myth is that if a parent receives child support payments, those payments will cover everything that the child needs. The truth is that raising a child is expensive, and the cost of their basic needs will not be their only expenses. Things like toys and games, camp fees, music lessons, and sports teams all cost money that might go over the amount allotted by the child support payments. Both parents should participate in maintaining their child's finances, so this means that the parent receiving child support payments is likely to contribute some of their own money to cover certain costs beyond what the payments cover.

Truth: There are different ways that parents can send and receive child support payments. 

It is a myth to think that there is only one way to make child support payments. While it is true that the court may tell you which way you must make payments, there are in fact several ways that payment can be sent and received between parents. Some people make child support payments through a state organization that passes along the money to the receiving parent. Other people make secure online transfers using tools like those available on the OurFamilyWizard® website. OFW® provides parents with an expense log where they can record expenses, request reimbursements, and send funds to each other directly through the website. Using OFWpay, one parent can set up regular monthly payments for a fixed amount to be transferred directly into the bank account of the other parent while having every step of the transfer thoroughly documented. Parents do not share banking information; instead, they each sign up for OFWpay and can begin making secure transfers to each other without having to send the money through an outside organization. OFWpay is a simple way for parents to not only make payments but create accurate, easy-to-read documentation of payments as they are made and received. 

Child support is an important topic to understand for many divorced or separated parents. Whether you are the one making or receiving funds, having the right knowledge at your disposal can help you to make smarter decisions about how to handle these payments. If you come across a topic related to child support that you are unsure about, speak to your attorney or contact your local family court for assistance in getting the right answers to your specific questions.