Huntsville Child Support Lawyer: Alabama Guidelines
After custody of a couple’s children, the next most frequently debated issue in divorce may be child support payments. Child support is meant to ensure your children’s standard of living does not decline due to your divorce. In Alabama, child support is determined according to a formula, which aims to make sure payments are fair. However, much is left to the judge in a divorce, including child support orders / decisions.
Don’t try to deal with a judge’s determination of child support payments on your own. At New Beginnings Family Law, our skilled Huntsville child support attorneys will make a strong case for a fair and equitable order in light of the income factors set forth in state guidelines. Our dedicated attorneys have fought to protect the rights of custodial and non-custodial parents throughout Alabama for more than a decade. We are focused on our clients’ goals and the best interests of their children.
Whether you need to establish grounds for child support, get unpaid child support, or build a case for child support modification, our knowledgeable divorce lawyers are here to help. Schedule a consultation with our team today.
How Much is Child Support in Alabama?
Alabama law holds that both parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially. Fortunately, our state has developed rules for determining what each parent can provide and for dividing the financial obligation toward children equitably. Unfortunately, new child support laws are complex and can be exploited in favor of one parent if the other is not prepared.
At New Beginnings Family Law, our Huntsville child support lawyers will obtain and analyze financial information for both you and your spouse. With this information, we will review with you certain areas of Alabama child support guidelines that may be open to the judge’s discretion and how this could affect you. If your child support terms remain disputed and go before a judge, we will fight for you.
Child support payments are based on the parents’ financial ability and the children’s needs. A court can take into consideration:
- Gross income of both parents, or “family income”
- Each child’s standard needs based on the child’s age
- Insurance premiums paid for each child’s health care coverage
- Child care expenses
- Any extraordinary medical expenses or special needs
- Federal and state income tax exemptions
- Customary visitation or physical custody rights of the parents
- Pre-existing support payments for other dependents
The Alabama Schedule of Basic Child-Support Obligations identifies the proper total support based on your “family income” and number of dependent children. The judge will make adjustments according to costs as indicated above. Then, the non-custodial parent pays a portion of the total support figure based on the percentage of income he or she makes.
Calculating child support payments in Alabama is not a simple process. So it is crucial that you consult with a knowledgeable Huntsville child support lawyer about what factors may be taken into consideration and how you can protect the best interests of your children.
Additional Evidence That May Be Considered in Child Support Calculations
The Alabama child support calculation guidelines are not hard-and-fast. The court may deviate from them if, in the opinion of the court, any evidence presented by either party justifies the deviation. The presiding judge may consider:
- Shared physical custody or visitation rights that put the children with the paying parent for longer-than-customary periods
- Excessive transportation costs required for visitation, which one parent mostly pays
- College education costs (prior to the child reaching the age of majority, i.e., 19 years old)
- Assets or unearned income received by or on behalf of a child or children
- Other facts or circumstances that the court finds contribute to the best interest of the child or children for whom child support is being determined
Child Support Attorney: Agreements & Negotiations
Given the latitude a divorce court judge in Alabama has, it is always preferable for divorcing parents to come to an agreement about child support before going to court. However, we understand that this is not always possible. Our team will negotiate child support payments on your behalf with your spouse and/or before a judge based on documented need and ability to provide. We will work to remove emotion from the equation and focus solely on what’s in the best interests of your children.
Child Support Modification in Alabama
Child support payments are meant to provide for minor-age children. Once a child reaches the age of 19 (the age of majority in Alabama), the paying parent’s obligation ends, unless the divorce agreement says otherwise. For example, a judge may order one parent to provide college education for the couple’s children, extending payments beyond age 19.
You may petition the court to end or modify child support payments if you can show a “material change in circumstances that is substantial and continuing.” Typically, this is a significant change in the paying parent’s income, or to child custody arrangements that cause a financial impact. To agree to your request, the court will look for at least a 10 percent change in circumstances.
Regardless, the decision is still the judge’s. You must document your changed need or ability to pay to the judge’s satisfaction in order to change your child support payments. You must also overcome any objections your ex-spouse may present.
Our Child Support Attorney Can Help Today
At New Beginnings Family Law, our compassionate divorce attorneys have extensive experience helping parents obtain child support modifications. Our team can meet with you and go over your options to modify your divorce, regardless of whether we originally handled your divorce.