Disclaimer: This child support calculator is for informational purposes only. The Court will decide itself how much of child support you’ll have to pay or receive. Our calculator try to take into consideration as many factors as possible, and is made based on the most recent Guidelines, but the Court will set the final amount.
Child support is a child’s legal right and a parent’s legal obligation. It refers to the non-custodial parent’s duty to periodically pay a specified sum of money to the custodial parent for the child’s benefit. In some cases, such amount is paid to the state or any other person who is acting as the custodian of the child. Child support is a child’s fundamental human right under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1992. The convention mandates that every member state (including the United States) must make both parents liable for the proper upbringing and development of the children.
Child support means a contribution towards the basic needs and necessities of the child, including food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and education. The necessities here do not mean the basic needs required for mere bodily existence, but it means the child must have such a standard of living that will ensure its proper development and upbringing. In Alabama, the child support is paid by the non-custodial parent voluntarily or under a fair and written agreement between the parents or under an order of a court.
How to Calculate Child Support in Alabama
In Alabama, the calculation of child support is made in accordance with the state’s Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines prescribe that the amount of child support must be calculated based on the gross income of the parents, work-related child care costs, and healthcare coverage costs. Though both parents are responsible for paying the child support, it is presumed that the custodial parent has already spent their portion on the child.
The amount of child support payable by a parent is proportionate to the gross income of the parent. Gross income means the actual income earned by the parent or the amount he can earn because of his potential or ability to earn. Being unemployed does not absolve the parent from his obligation to pay child support. In cases where the parents are not working at their full capacity, the guidelines direct that the child support must be calculated based on the parent’s ability to earn rather than their actual earnings. The ability to earn is determined based on factors such as parent’s employment history, educational qualifications, vocational training, skills, working opportunities, wage scale, etc. Such presumption or legal fiction is important to reduce the risk of deception that is exercised by some parents, who quit their jobs to escape their obligation to pay child support.
Deviation from the Child Support Guidelines
The guideline prescribes the conditions under which the courts can deviate from the guideline to dispense justice better. It must be kept in mind that the conditions specified in the guideline are inclusive and not exhaustive. The courts are always allowed to deviate from the guideline owing to reasons not specifically provided when it is in the child’s best interest. These conditions are listed below:
- When the non-custodial parent has shared physical custody or visitation rights and the period of physical custody or care is considerably more than the approved or customary period.
- When the non-custodial parent is forced to bear extra-ordinary transportation costs for visitation.
- Owing to the cost of college education to be incurred before the child attains the age of majority.
- Owing to any assets or unearned income received by or on behalf of the child.
- Owing to sizeable day-care/child-care costs as may be prescribed.
Collection and Distribution of Child Support Payments
In Alabama, child support is generally paid monthly using the following methods:
- Non-custodial parent directly pays the support amount to the custodial parent.
- Income Withholding processed through the Alabama Child Support Payment Center.
Federal laws and regulations govern the distribution of child support payments. The distribution is affected by the fact that the parent has ever received TANF benefits.
Additional Support and Role of CSED
The low-income families with children are assisted through the Financial Assistance programs of the state. The Child Support Enforcement Division of the Alabama Department of Human Services or CSED enforces the child support order if the obligor parent fails to pay. The CSED uses the following methods to allure the owing parent to pay child support:
- Wage Deductions.
- Reporting to the credit bureau.
- Redirecting the refunds of Income Tax (Federal or State).
- Imposing passport restrictions.