Parents are responsible for providing their children with shelter, food, clothing, healthcare, education, and other necessities of life. The law assigns these responsibilities to each parent, and both must contribute to their children’s support.
If you live apart from your co-parent, one of you likely must pay child support to the other. While the state uses a formula to determine the appropriate amount of child support, disputes still frequently arise between parents. Consulting a local family attorney is a wiser strategy than trying to manage a child support disagreement yourself.
A Lawrence child support lawyer could help you reach an agreement on child support with your co-parent or enforce a support obligation in court, if necessary.
Determining the Amount of Child Support
Both parents must financially contribute to raising their children. In most cases, the residential parent contributes by providing the home, food, clothing, costs of utilities, and incidental expenses. The non-residential parent pays the residential parent to absorb some of those expenses. Even though the residential parent receives the money, child support is a child’s right, not a parent’s.
Kansas Statutes § 38-2277 directs judges to use the state’s child support guidelines to determine a child support payment. The formula accounts for:
- Each parent’s income
- The number of children each parent supports
- Whether a parent pays or receives alimony
- Extraordinary expenses like work-related childcare and healthcare for the children
How much time the children spend with each parent also factors into the equation. A seasoned Lawrence child support attorney could help a parent use the formula to estimate the payment amount that is most likely in their specific case.
Sometimes, a parent attempts to hide income to lower their child support obligations or intentionally earns less than they could to avoid paying support. In such cases, the judge could impute income to that parent, which means they use the income the parent could be making or has made to calculate their support obligation.
Child Support and Never-Married Parents
The child of unmarried parents has only one legal parent, the mother. Unmarried parents can establish a child’s paternity by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity at the hospital when the baby is born. If either parent does not sign the Acknowledgement, the parent seeking to establish paternity must bring a petition in court.
A mother seeking child support must establish her child’s paternity. The local Kansas Child Support Services office could help a mother locate the alleged father and provide no-cost genetic testing. If the test reveals the man is the father, either parent can work with a capable attorney to file a petition seeking a court order establishing paternity.
Once legal paternity is established, the father owes the mother child support. The father also has the right to seek parenting time and custody and to be notified if the child is put up for adoption.
Child Support Is a Legal Obligation Separate from Custody
Child support can be an emotionally loaded topic. The parent paying support might question whether the receiving parent uses the money for the children’s benefit. The parent receiving the money might feel they contribute more toward their children’s support than the paying parent.
Parents sometimes let these resentments impact other aspects of their relationship with each other and their children. For example, a parent might stop paying support unless the other parent agrees to use the money in a specific way. Or a receiving parent might deny access to the children if the paying parent falls behind in their support payments or inform the children that the paying parent is refusing to pay for their basic needs.
Parents must not allow child support disputes to impact visitation or use them to alienate the children from a parent. Doing so violates the court’s order and demonstrates an unwillingness to prioritize the children’s welfare. Instead, consulting an experienced child support lawyer in Lawrence to resolve the problem is a much wiser strategy.
Seek Advice From a Lawrence Child Support Attorney
If you are developing a child support arrangement with your co-parent, or if your current arrangement is not working properly, contact a local legal professional. A Lawrence child support lawyer could offer sound advice and help you resolve any issues.
Do not try to manage a child support dispute on your own. Reach out today to speak with a dedicated attorney.