Updating or correcting your child support does not make you less of a father; it just means you’ll have more money to spend on your child in different ways. The child support guidelines have a formula that is based on a number of factors. And if your child support is too high or calculated incorrectly, you are actually doing your child a disservice. The entire point of child support is that it’s supposed to make sure that your child is comfortable and, well, supported wherever they may be. If you’re paying child support above and beyond the guidelines, then you cannot support your child the way that they require when they visit with you. To that end, here are some things to consider.
READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Divorce and Kids
1. Cover your child on your health insurance
When you cover your child on your health insurance, you generally will be able to deduct the amount that you pay per month on health insurance for that particular child from your health insurance. If you have a family plan already, then you’re able to lower your support without having to pay more for your health insurance. This is money in your pocket that you can spend on your kids.
2. Look for a daycare with better rates
Child support guidelines generally require the parties to pay a pro rata share of the daycare expenses. So for instance, if your daycare costs $200 per month and you have 75 percent of the income between you and your child’s mother, then you will essentially be paying $150 per month for daycare. If you can find a daycare for $100 per month, you would only be paying $75 per month for daycare. Something to consider.
3. If you are working less than 40 hours per week, then work more hours
Working more hours generally causes your child support to go up. So how does working more hours help you with child support? Generally, courts will impute you to working 40 hours per week in calculating your income. For example, if you make $10 per hour and work 35 hours per week. The court will generally impute your income to a full-time job and make your income be $10 per hour x 40 hours per week x 4.33 weeks. If you are only working 35 hours per week, then you can go ahead and work to the 40 hours per week and your child support will not go up. Again, this is only if the court has imputed you to working 40 hours per week.
4. If you are paying child support to more than one woman, update it
The child support guidelines will generally allow you an above-the-line deduction to your income if you are paying child support to someone else. For instance, if your income is $2000 per month and you are already paying child support in the amount of $200 per month to someone else, then the court would lower your income to $1800. Lower your income, lower your child support. So, if you have a child, and begin paying child support on that child, make sure to file to change the child support on each child.
5. Review your child support order with a lawyer periodically
You don’t technically have to have a lawyer to modify your child support. But a family law lawyer can help you look at your current child support order and compare it to what your new order may be. This can give you an educated idea of whether or not you need to file to change your child support. Example: Your child may have stopped going to daycare but your income has substantially gone up. It may not be a good idea at that time to file to modify your child support.
Sam Bone is a Gadsden, Alabama divorce lawyer where he practices in the areas of divorce, custody, and criminal defense. His website is www.danibone.com.