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As if getting divorced were not complicated and emotional enough, if there are children of the marriage you may also have to deal with custody and child support issues. When your children are involved, you naturally want only the best for them. Once child custody is settled, you and your spouse must work out the details of child support. The presumption exists that both parents have a continuing legal duty to financially support their children. The state of Alabama has very specific rules for determining the financial responsibilities of parents, whether those parents are unmarried, separated, or divorced.  

The amount of child support will depend on the combined income of both parents minus allowable expenses, as well as how many children require financial support. Generally speaking, the parent with primary custody will be entitled to receive child support. This is due to the fact that the law presumes the parent with primary custody is already spending their share of the financial obligation directly on the children. The parent with visitation rights spends less time with the children, therefore, typically makes child support payments.  

As of a few years ago, 22.4 percent of custodial mothers were living below the poverty level, with child support representing almost 71 percent of the income for these custodial mothers. This clearly shows just how important child support payments are, and what a difference child support makes for many children of divorce. As with most divorce and child-related issues, the issue of child support can get heated and emotional. It can be extremely helpful to have an experienced Cullman child support lawyer from Hankey Law Firm to advocate on your behalf for an equitable amount of child support.  

How Does Child Support Work in Alabama? 

The right to parent your child comes with the responsibility to provide for that child’s needs. Just as your parental rights survive a divorce or separation, so too does the duty to support your child. Even though child support is a well-recognized obligation and is calculated according to formulas, there are still numerous legal issues that can arise, including:

  • A parent not paying child support as the law requires
  • The improper calculation of the child support obligation
  • Modifying the child support obligation based on a change in circumstances
  • Extending a child support obligation past the child’s 18th birthday

Whether you are the parent paying child support or you receive child support from the other parent, turn to the Cullman County child support legal team of Hankey Law Firm for all your legal needs.

Our attorney Shelbie Hankey has practiced family law in Cullman County and surrounding counties for years, devoting her practice to delivering exceptional, personalized service and advocacy to her clients. Speak with attorney Shelbie Hankey and the Hankey Law Firm today.

Why Should You Choose a Cullman Child Support Lawyer from Hankey Law Firm? 

When you are dealing with issues related to child custody and child support, you want a Cullman child support lawyer who has your best interests and those of your child uppermost in mind and will fight for those best interests. Attorney Shelbie Hankey has been advocating for her family law clients since 2004, meeting every client that walks through the door with professionalism and care. Our goal is to get to know you beyond the details of your case. We truly care about the outcome of your divorce issues, including securing a fair amount of child support. We will spend the necessary time creating specialized solutions for each and every client. At Hankey Law Firm we are proud to serve the area we call home, bringing passion, experience, and diligence to every client. Choosing Shelbie Hankey and Hankey Law Firm for your child support case simply makes the most sense and will render the best outcome.  

How Much Could Child Support Be in Alabama?

When the parents of a child separate or divorce, the court will order one parent to pay child support to the other. The parent with whom the child primarily resides will receive child support from the non-custodial parent. In nearly every child support case, the court calculates the amount of child support due according to a fixed formula. This formula considers the combined income of both parents to arrive at a total support amount. The formula then considers the percentage each parent contributes to that combined income figure. The parent with the obligation to pay will pay the same portion of the total child support obligation as they contribute to the combined total income.

The process for determining child support in Alabama is fairly straightforward: 

  • First, the income of both parents, minus accepted expenses is calculated for each parent, and the total of each added together.  
  • The Alabama Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligation is then used with this total combined income to determine a basic amount for support times the number of children.   
  • If the parent with primary custody must work and requires childcare, this is considered an extra expense, along with any extraordinary medical expenses necessary for the child. These expenditures, if they are present, will be added to the amount from the schedule of basic child support.   
  • Once this figure is reached, it is divided between the parents based on their individual proportion of adjusted gross income. If one parent has $4,000 in gross income per month, while the other has $2,000 per month, the higher earner would be responsible for two-thirds of the total amount necessary to support the child, while the lower earner would be responsible for one-third. The custodial parent is presumed to spend his or her share of the necessary child support directly on the children.     

As an example, John and Jill have one child that Jill will have primary custody of. Both John and Jill’s gross income is $2,000 per month, with childcare expenses at $100 per month. For this example, we’ll assume the cost of healthcare insurance is paid by the father’s employer, and the father has no other support orders for child support or alimony from prior relationships.  

The combined gross monthly income of John and Jill is $4,000, making the basic child support obligation $546.00 per month. The $100 per month childcare amount is added, bringing the total to $646.00. The obligation between the mother and father is based on their respective shares of total income, making the father’s presumptive child support obligation half of $646.00, or $323 per month.   

Under certain circumstances, the final child support amount can be deviated from. Such things as physical custody split 50/50 between the parents, any exceptional costs of transportation for visitation, any expenses related to a college education before the child turns 18, and any assets or other money received by the child or on behalf of the child.    

What Can Child Support Be Used for in Alabama?

Child support payments are usually spent on the basic needs of the child, including shelter, food, clothing, and medical costs. Beyond these basic needs, child support may also be spent on school tuition, childcare expenses, the cost of extracurricular activities, and transportation expenses. If you and your spouse are in agreement that your children will attend a private school, then those expenses should be included in the final child support amount. If the tuition is not included in child support (perhaps only the parent receiving child support wants the children to attend private school) then child support can be used for those expenses. Other school-related expenses like school supplies and the cost of field trips can be paid for out of monthly child support amounts.  

In most situations, child support ends when the child turns 18, or when the child graduates from high school, up to the age of 19. A parent may, however, be ordered to continue to financially support their child through college under certain circumstances such as:  

  • The financial circumstances of each parent 
  • Any expectations the parents have regarding whether their children would attend college 
  • The degree to which the child remains financially dependent on his or her parents 
  • Whether alternative funding like student loans is available to the child 

Items like school uniforms, the cost of musical instruments, the costs associated with other extracurricular events, tutoring, summer camps, and extraordinary healthcare costs are rarely included in child support. This means the parents need to work together to determine how to address any unusual or special expenses. If no agreement can be reached, a judge can modify the existing child support order to address these unusual circumstances.   

While some parents that pay child support may attempt to tell the other parent how the funds should be spent, custodial parents are not legally required to keep track of how child support is spent. Unless the paying parent can prove that the custodial parent is neglecting the child’s well-being, safety, or health, the court will likely not want to get involved. As an example, if the children are going without food and clothing, while the parent receiving child support takes lavish vacations, then the paying parent’s best option is to ask child services or the court for a child welfare investigation.  

Can Child Support in Alabama Be Modified? 

When you or the other parent experience a material change in your circumstances, you may apply to the court for a modification. Examples of changes in circumstances that could impact a child support obligation include:

  • Loss of job, reduction in hours, or promotion
  • Relocation for work or personal reasons
  • Illness or disability, whether temporary or permanent
  • New child support orders that the paying parent owes

Not only must there be a change in circumstances that justify a modification, but the change must also be substantial. Alabama law presumes that a ten percent or greater difference in the child support obligation is substantial. You will be required to document the change in circumstances—meaning you cannot simply claim there has been such a change unless you have proof. 

Why Should You Hire a Cullman Child Support Lawyer Near You?

As noted, issues related to children can get contentious very quickly. When you have a Cullman child support lawyer from Hankey Law Firm by your side, you can be sure that child support will be calculated accurately. Although child support is determined by using a formula, sometimes a parent who does not want to pay child support will become deliberately unemployed. The court does not look kindly upon such antics and will impute an amount on behalf of the willfully unemployed parent based on his or her past work history, education, and skills.  

As an example, a parent who quit their job as an architect and went to work at McDonald’s will not be able to use this much lower income to determine child support. The court will look at the salary the parent made as an architect and use that amount when determining child support. Attorney Shelbie Hankey will make sure that the proper amounts of income and expenses are used when calculating child support. If you need a modification, we can file all the necessary paperwork, helping you justify the modification.

Contact an Experienced Cullman Child Support Lawyer from Hankey Law Firm 

Calculating the appropriate amount of child support may seem straightforward, but it is a fact-driven task. Without a skilled Alabama child support lawyer assisting you along the way, you risk over- or underpaying child support.

Call the office of the Hankey Law Firm for help with all your child support-related questions and concerns. Upon retaining our firm, we will get to work by understanding your situation and determining the most effective and efficient way to address your issues. Contact Hankey Law Firm today for the assistance you need with your child support issues.