Why Does a Parent That Doesn't Have Custody Have to Pay Child Support?

By Beverly Bird

Just as you support your children financially while you're married, you must continue to do so when you divorce. The major difference is that if you divorce, the government keeps a watchful eye on whether you're paying – at least if you're the non-custodial parent. Child support is designed to ensure that your children enjoy the same standard of living as they would have enjoyed if you and your spouse didn't break up.

Just as you support your children financially while you're married, you must continue to do so when you divorce. The major difference is that if you divorce, the government keeps a watchful eye on whether you're paying – at least if you're the non-custodial parent. Child support is designed to ensure that your children enjoy the same standard of living as they would have enjoyed if you and your spouse didn't break up.

What Support Covers

Child support contributes to the costs of your children's basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter. Depending on where you live, the court may expect it to pay for other things as well. For example, in California, it can cover things like toys, recreation and lessons. The logic is that because your children would have had these things if you had stayed married, you should contribute to them after your divorce.

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Custodial Parent's Contribution

It's a misconception that custodial parents don't pay support. If your spouse has physical custody, she'll use her income toward the mortgage, utilities, groceries, and your children's other needs. Your child support payments contribute and defray some of these expenses. Your spouse pays her share directly to your children's needs.

Effect of Joint Custody

If the court awards you joint physical custody, this may cut down on your child support obligation. That's because most courts consider that both you and your spouse are paying for your children's needs directly when they're with each of you. If you earn considerably more than your spouse, you might have a small child support obligation, designed so your children can enjoy the same standard of living in both homes.

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Can You Share Custody Without Child Support?

References

Related articles

How to Split Expenses for Kids in a Divorce

Both parents are obligated to provide financial support to their children during and following a divorce. Child support is usually provided to the custodial parent by the noncustodial parent. However, there are many additional expenses, called extraordinary expenses, that are not included with the payment of child support. These additional expenses can be divided between the parents in several ways, depending on the circumstances of your case. If you are paying child support, you must be prepared to pay additional money above and beyond your support obligation in order to fund your children's additional expenses.

The Child Support Obligation for a Non-Custodial Parent According to the Law in Illinois

Illinois is one of only 10 jurisdictions that still calculates child support the good, old-fashioned way, based only on the non-custodial parent's income. Along with eight other states and the District of Columbia, Illinois courts use the percentage of obligor's income formula for determining a non-custodial parent's obligation. This formula doesn't incorporate your spouse's earnings, but if you're divorcing and you think you'll be the non-custodial parent, it makes it relatively easy to understand what your obligation will be going forward.

Texas Family Code Child Support Guidelines

Heading into a divorce, one of the hardest things to deal with is the uncertainty. You may have heard horror stories from friends about how they're paying much more in child support than they can reasonably afford. If you conferred with an attorney, he might have left your head spinning with explanations of how support is technically calculated. If you live in Texas, however, you'll catch a bit of a break, at least when it comes to understanding the process. This is one of a few states that still calculates child support according to percentage of income guidelines.

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