Child support can be a very complicated and contentious aspect of divorce. Alabama has very specific guidelines for calculating the child support amount, but a judge can choose to deviate from the guidelines if you can prove or the judge believe that the guidelines would be unfair in your unique situation. Child support orders are a very serious matter. An amount that is too high can result in severe legal consequences for the payor and ultimate be harmful to the child. An amount that is too low is detrimental to the receiving parent and the child. Mobile, Alabama, child support attorney Sarah Rutledge can help you secure a fair initial child support order or modification. Please, call us today.
Initial Child Support Order in Alabama
Alabama follows the income shares model in calculating the child support amount. The basic idea is to take the combined income of the parents, use the schedule of Basic Child-Support Obligations to determine to combined support amount, and then assign a portion of that amount proportional to the non-custodial parent’s portion of the combined income as the child support amount that the non-custodial parent must pay.
That sounds simple, but the Alabama child-support guidelines are very complicated.
For instance, if the court believes that a parent is intentionally unemployed or underemployed, it will estimate the income it believes that parent should have and use that in calculating the support obligation. The intent is to prevent non-custodial parents from shirking their financial responsibility by simply refusing to work or by getting paid “under the table”. But in some cases, it puts an innocent parent in legal jeopardy.
Deviating from the Child Support Guidelines in Alabama
The guidelines are very specific, but the judge can deviate from the guidelines if you and the other parent have a written agreement establishing a different amount and explaining why or if the court believes that application of the guidelines would be unfair or inequitable for one of the following reasons:
- The child spends substantially more time with the non-custodial parent than is customary.
- One parent spends an extraordinary amount of money on transportation for visitation purposes.
- There are college expenses before the child reaches the age of majority.
- The child has assets or unearned income.
- The custodial parent will not be claiming income tax exemptions for the child.
- Excessive child care costs.
- Other circumstances that are in the best interest of the child.
Child Support Modification in Alabama
Child support modification is appropriate if either parent has an increase or decrease in income or if the costs or needs of the child change. Remember, it is essential that you go through the court and get a modification order before taking it upon yourself to pay less than your ordered amount or you can be found in contempt of court, even if the other parent has agreed to the change.
For help with child support orders, modification, and enforcement, please call Mobile, Alabama, child support attorney Sarah Rutledge at 251-300-1653 or contact us online right away.