Thorough and Thoughtful Child Support Attorneys in Birmingham, AL
Child support is a crucial aspect of family law that impacts the futures and lives of countless families throughout Alabama. This financial support is designed to ensure that the needs of children are met, even when parents no longer live together. It is often determined after a divorce and custody have been determined and our team can also help as your Birmingham divorce attorney if needed.
The state of Alabama adheres to specific legal guidelines to determine the fair amount of child support needed and it looks to balance the financial burden between both parents. The fundamental principle here is that children should not suffer financially due to the separation or divorce of their parents.
A key component in understanding and navigating child support in Alabama is Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration. We will attempt to shed light on Rule 32 and other important aspects of child support and provide some essential knowledge for parents navigating this terrain. Remember, while this information offers a broad overview, it does not replace the need for professional legal advice tailored to your unique situation.
The Cornerstone of Alabama Child Support is Rule 32
Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration is a crucial framework that outlines how child support should (and often will) be calculated and enforced. This rule provides a standardized method for determining child support and it attempts to ensure fairness and consistency across cases.
Rule 32 encompasses a set of guidelines known as the Child Support Guidelines, which utilize the “Income Shares Model.” This model operates on the premise that children should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would have received if the parents were living together.
Calculating Child Support Under Rule 32
Under Rule 32, child support calculations start by determining the gross income of both parents. This includes wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, dividends, pension, and self-employment income. This total combined income is then cross-referenced with the Child Support Guidelines to establish a basic child support obligation.
However, the obligation doesn’t simply end there. The guidelines take into account other factors, such as
- Health insurance premiums for the child
- Work-related childcare costs
- Extraordinary medical expenses
- Federal and state tax exemptions
- Pre-existing support payments
- and any other extraordinary expenses
The final figure is then divided between the parents based on their respective incomes. It’s important to note that these guidelines are not rigid; they allow for adjustments based on the needs of the child and the ability of parents to pay.
It is estimated in Birmingham that raising a child could cost around $1,400 per month which means even modest child support payments can go a long way in creating a brighter future for the child. However, exemptions for these calculations could exist if the parents’ combined income is less than $800 or more than $20,000 per month, the child support amount will be calculated individually for that couple and their children.
Additional Factors That Could Be Considered For Child Support Calculations
Calculating child support payments in Birmingham has standard guidelines in place, but they are not always set-in-stone. The court may deviate from the standard guidelines if it feels that justifiable evidence has been presented by either party. The presiding judge may consider factors such as:
- Shared custody or visitation rights that put the child (children) with the paying parent for longer-than-usual periods of time. Contact our experienced Birmingham child custody attorneys for more information on custody decisions.
- Excessive (and unavoidable) transportation costs required for visitation which is mostly paid by one parent
- College education costs (prior to the child reaching age 19 which is considered majority)
- Assets or other unearned income received by the child or on their behalf
- Any other factors the court deems necessary and contribute to the best interest of the child for whom support is being determined
Birmingham Child Support For Military
If one spouse, who is expected to pay child support, is also a member of the US Armed Forces, federal law and military regulations will require that parent to keep child support payments current and up-to-date. However, these rules often limit, or “cap,” the amount of total support (both child support and alimony) the spouse must pay. If you or your spouse is a military service member, contact our experienced Birmingham military divorce attorneys to discuss how child support payments would work in your case.
Modifying Child Support Orders
Circumstances change, and Alabama law recognizes this by allowing modifications to child support orders. A significant change in circumstances, such as a job loss, substantial increase or decrease in income, or changes in the child’s needs, can warrant a revision of the child support amount.
To modify child support, a parent must file a request with the court, providing evidence of the changed circumstances. The court will then review the request in light of Rule 32 guidelines and make an appropriate adjustment to the expected child support payments.
Enforcement and Non-Payment Consequences
Failure to comply with child support orders in Alabama can lead to severe consequences for either parent. The Alabama Department of Human Resources can take several enforcement actions against the parent such as
- Wage garnishment
- Interception of tax refunds
- revocation of licenses
- Or more
In extreme cases, non-payment can result in contempt of court charges, leading to fines or imprisonment. The state takes these measures to emphasize the importance of fulfilling child support obligations.
Tax Implications of Child Support
In Alabama, child support payments have no direct tax implications. They are neither tax-deductible for the paying parent nor taxable income for the receiving parent. This distinction sets child support apart from alimony, which has different tax treatments. Understanding this is crucial for financial planning and compliance with tax laws. Feel free to contact our Birmingham alimony attorneys to learn more about the process of alimony.
Duration of Child Support Obligations
In Alabama, child support obligations typically last until the child reaches the age of 19 which is legally considered the age of majority in the state. However, this can vary if the child has certain disabilities or if there are specific provisions in the support order. In cases where the child is still in high school at 19, support may continue until graduation or the child’s 20th birthday.
Schedule a Consultation With Our Birmingham Child Support Attorneys Today
Here at The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian & Associates, we value open and honest communication about child support and the stress it can have on family law matters.
Don’t face those tough circumstances alone. Let our team of Birmingham family law attorneys help guide you through and get the fair and equitable outcome you deserve. We will gather the necessary financial information to build a strong case showing what is necessary for your child’s future and well-being.