Divorce is often complex, and even more so when children are involved.
Depending on you and your spouse’s financial situation, you might be required to pay child support. Divorce is expensive enough on its own, but the addition of a monthly child support payment is enough to ruin many guys’ finances.
There are a lot of misconceptions about and flaws with the child support system, and it is easy to fall behind on your payments and into arrears. When child support debt starts to accumulate, it might be worth checking with your divorce attorney to see if child support debt consolidation is a possibility.
To avoid child support debt, it is important to educate yourself on the intricacies of the system so that you avoid common child support mistakes.
Failing to report changes to your income
Perhaps the most common child support mistake dads make is failing to report changes to their financial circumstances.
The amount of money you are bringing in dictates how much child support you are expected to pay. So if you lose your job, receive a pay cut, or experience some other change in income, you might be able to file for a child support modification.
Child support modifications can be tricky, however, so it is best to discuss with your family law attorney to make sure you understand what you need to do. It also is critical to act with a sense of urgency. Child support is not adjusted automatically when your income changes, so the onus is on you to take action.
Child support modifications also are not retroactive. Changes to child support orders only go back to the date the request for the change was filed.
Making payments outside court-approved methods
When issuing a child support order, the court will list the various ways child support payments should be made. Even if you and your ex divorce on friendly terms, it still is in your best interest to make the payments through a court-approved method to protect yourself.
For example, you initially might agree to pay your ex-wife child support directly. That might work fine for a while, but down the road you might have a disagreement and she would be able to take you to court for missed payments since you did not pay through a court-approved method.
Paying past the age of emancipation
Many divorced dads mistakenly assume their child support order will automatically end once their child reaches the age of emancipation. Unfortunately, that typically is not the case, and the payments will continue unless you take action to end it.
Furthermore, your overpayment is very hard to get reimbursed if it has been spent by the receiving parent.
The age of emancipation varies by state, so make sure you know what the age is where you live. Then, when that date approaches, contact your divorce lawyer to make sure you understand the process for terminating your child support order.
If you have any questions about your child support order or are worried about making a mistake that could lead to child support debt, it is a good idea to get in touch with a men’s divorce attorney as soon as possible.