Parents are obligated by law to provide support for their children. After a divorce, an Alabama court may award child support payments to one parent based on a number of different factors discussed below. The goal of child support is to comply with parents' legal obligation to provide support for their child or children, and also to ensure that the child or children can have the same standard of living that they had during their parents' marriage. Alabama, like most other states, has guidelines to help courts determine the appropriate amount of child support in a given situation.
Alabama Child Support Guidelines
Alabama child support is determined by estimating the amount of financial support that would have been available to the child or children had the parents not divorced. To do this, Alabama uses a formula to calculate support payments that is based on:
- The number of children under the age of 19 involved in the particular support calculation;
- The gross income of each parent as it relates to their combined income;
- Amount paid for health and other insurance for the child or children, and which person pays for it;
- Amount needed for work-related childcare; and
- Any preexisting child support or alimony obligations on behalf of either spouse.
Once this information can be collected, it is entered onto a Form CS-42 to determine the total monthly support obligation of each spouse.
In some situations, parents may agree to arrangements outside of the parameters of the state's child support worksheet, especially in situations where the monthly support obligation ends up being beyond the parents' financial means. There may also be cases where a child's financial needs change, either due to educational expenses or other life events. In such cases, parents may request that the court allow them to diverge from calculated support obligations and to negotiate a monthly support agreement between each other. Such requests require a reasonable written explanation as to why the parents wish to diverge from the state's child support guidelines and should detail the exact terms that the parents are agreeing to.
Termination of Child Support
The age of majority in Alabama is 19. Therefore, parents are obligated to continue to make child support payments until a child turns 19 or is emancipated. In cases where a child is permanently mentally or physically disabled, a court may require parents to continue paying support even when the child has become an adult.
In cases where the financial situations of parents change after a child support order has been entered, it is sometimes possible to ask the court to modify the child support payments based on new circumstances. For instance, if one parent loses their job it may be possible to ask the court to decrease the monthly amount of child support owed to an amount within the means of the newly unemployed parent. Failure to make monthly child support payments may result in the suspension of the driver's license of the parent that has been ordered to pay.
Child support is an important aspect of divorce proceedings and requires the knowledge of a skilled family law attorney that has experience handling child support cases. If you have questions or concerns about divorce or the implications child support payments may have for you, or if you have questions about modifying existing child support orders, contact Eversole Law to schedule a consultation regarding your questions.