How Is Child Support Determined in Alabama?

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Alabama Laws
This article was reviewed and approved for publication by Attorney Charlotte Christian.
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Alabama has set guidelines on how child support is determined. These guidelines ensure the amount is fair and reasonable. Certain factors may change the amount of child support obligation.

The best interests of the child are the focus when determining how much child support will be paid in Alabama.

An attorney can help you gain a better understanding of how child support is determined in Alabama.

Alabama Uses the Income Shares Model to Calculate Child Support

The National Conference of State Legislatures developed the income shares model to determine the amount of child support the noncustodial parent would pay. This model ensures the child receives the same amount of income from each parent that they would have received if both parents lived in the same household. This model was created because the courts believe children should have the same level of support that would have been available to them if their parents were still together.

The Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration state that under the guidelines, each parent needs to submit the following:

  • Child Support Guidelines Form
  • Child Support Obligation Income Statement

They then look at the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations to determine the combined income available to the family unit, adjusting to include childcare and medical insurance premiums. Each parent’s percentage share of the combined family income will give the total each parent is obligated to contribute for child support. If a child has a high number of medical bills or educational costs, the courts may add additional child support obligations.

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Factors that Can Affect Alabama Child Support Payments

The guidelines give courts a proper estimate when determining child support obligations. However, other factors also play a role in the amount factored into child support obligations. These factors include:

  • If parents share physical custody and equally care for the child
  • If the parent has high transportation costs to visit the child
  • If the custodial parent claims the child as a federal and state tax exemption
  • Childcare or education expenses, including college education expenses before the child reaches the age of majority
  • Unearned income received by the child

Can Child Support Be Modified?

Alabama allows for child support obligation modifications. Guidelines have been created to ensure any modification made is necessary. The court has the final decision to approve or deny the modification request if they feel the petition is unjust or inequitable.

The guidelines for a child support modification include:

  • The provisions of any child support changes will only affect the installments after the petition or modification.
  • The parent who is seeking the modification must provide evidence to the courts to prove there has been a substantial change in circumstances that warrant the modification of child support.
  • The child’s healthcare needs increase drastically to affect child support orders, which include basic healthcare needs, such as insurance premiums.

Modifications can be permanent or temporary depending on the circumstances. A temporary modification could be made for large, unexpected expenses, such as if the child had a sudden medical emergency that incurred high out-of-pocket costs. A permanent change would be made if there was a substantial, long-term change in circumstances.

What if a Parent Fails to Pay the Amount of the Child Support Order?

If a parent refuses or fails to pay their court-ordered child support, the other parent can enforce payments by filing a motion with the court. If the parent still refuses to pay, they could end up facing criminal penalties.

If there are extenuating circumstances where a parent may not be able to pay, such as losing their job, a modification may be necessary to reflect the current financial situation.

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Call Charlotte Christian Law Today to Schedule a Case Review

If you have more questions about how child support is determined in Alabama, speak to one of our lawyers. We advocate for our clients through the entirety of their cases. If you need to change your current child support order, our attorneys can help. We will help make sure the modification is in your child’s best interest.

Contact us for a no-obligation case review with a member of our team. You and your child deserve caring and knowledgeable representation.

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