Articles Posted in Child Support

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As President John F. Kennedy famously said: Change is the law of life. Since divorce and child custody orders deal intrinsically with the details of our lives, they often need to be amended when our lives change.

Job changes, new relationships, relocations and new children can all require a child support or alimony orders to be modified. For people in this situation, it’s important to work with a skilled family law attorney who can represent your needs and interests. 

In some cases, parents or ex-spouses don’t believe that a modification is necessary if they can agree to new terms of child support or alimony on their own. However, it usually doesn’t take long for a conflict or a he-said she-said situation to arise.

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In late June, we wrote about the divorce between Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. The pair called it quits after five years together. They were married in 2006 at a castle in Italy.

The couple’s divorce took less than two weeks to settle, but was just recently finalized. We are now learning more about the divorce settlement, including the child support payments Cruise will be required to pay.

Although Katie Holmes will not be getting any of the actor’s $250 million fortune, as outlined in the couple’s prenuptial agreement, Cruise will be paying Holmes $400,000 each year in child support for the couple’s 6-year-old daughter, Suri. Cruise will be required to make the payments for the next 12 years, totaling $4.8 million. He will also be required to pay his daughter’s medical expenses as well as pay for her education and extracurricular activities.

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Each month, many Alabama residents feel the stress when the monthly bills are due. From making the mortgage payment to paying for the needs of a person’s children, there is a seemingly endless string of financial obligations that must be met on a limited income.

It can make matters much worse when an individual is a custodial parent, but does not receive the required child support payments from the other spouse. Some recent figures showed approximately $108 billion in back child support payments were owed in 2009.

In situations where there is a child support dispute, individuals have some options. There are a number of penalties that are available to go after parents for a failure to pay child support, up to and including jail time. Of course, this is disfavored, because it would remove the other parent’s financial means to pay the support in the first place, which is the ultimate goal.

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Raising a child involves many varied expenses, some of which are expected and others that are completely unforeseen. The costs associated with child-rearing can be financially draining on families of all types and incomes, but many single parents often face a disproportionate burden if the other parent is not around or does not contribute monetarily. When courts resolve child support issues, they often take into account many different factors, including educational costs like tuition for private school or college.

The Alabama Supreme Court recently heard a case involving whether non-custodial parents should be required to pay for their children’s college tuition. The long-standing decision on this issue dated back to 1989 and required non-custodial parents to contribute to tuition costs and educational expenses for children aged 19 and older who were not able to support themselves. This latest case reverses that ruling, eliminating the legal requirement to pay some of those educational expenses and holding that any contributions toward a child’s higher education must be voluntary.

Although the case discussed above is not directly related to a child support determination, it illustrates the complexity involved in determining who will pay for certain expenses of a child. Child support is frequently a contentious issue among parents who are separated or divorced. While most parents want to contribute toward the costs of raising their children and want to ensure that the child’s needs are met, some parents feel financially unable to contribute what the other parent asks. In other situations, one parent may disagree with the parenting decisions or choices of the other parent that are resulting in some of the expenses.

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Alabama residents who are going through a difficult time with their spouse understand that the relationship problems can be heavy. This is also true in divorce because individuals may feel like their work and family life are affected by the divorce process.

Emotions can cause individuals to act in different ways. Some may want to take some time off work or cut back on hours. However, individuals should understand there are consequences to decisions made at work and at home which can affect the divorce proceeding itself, including child support issues that may arise.

For instance, if a person quits their job or cuts back on hours, this decision can have serious consequences for the person. This is because the child support guidelines typically calculate the amount a person must pay not only on the financial needs of the child, but also on the ability of the parent to make payments.

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Alabama parents understand that the cost of raising a child can be very high. This is true not only for everyday expenses, but for additional expenses such as the costs of sending a child to college. While these expenses are hard enough to meet under regular circumstances, the situation can become even more complicated when child support issues become involved.

Typically, the costs of education are addressed in a divorce proceeding, similar to other costs incurred in raising a child. While parents can agree on anything they like in terms of having a noncustodial parent pay the costs of college for the child, when parents do not enter into such an agreement, the responsibility of the noncustodial parent to pay for college varies according to state law.

In Alabama, the state Supreme Court recently handed down a ruling that reversed a 24-year-old precedent in this area of the law. The case came to the Court after a mother appealed a decision that required her to help pay for her child’s college expenses.

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When Alabama residents are given orders to follow, many do their best to comply. This is particularly important when the order is coming down from a court which has the power to impose serious penalties on a person for failing to comply with the court order.

One area where individuals find themselves in the situation of having to comply with a court order is in relation to child support orders. If the parent exhibits a failure to pay child support, there can be serious consequences.

Of course, the first step in the process is knowing what the court’s order actually says. Some orders may provide for the manner of child support payments, such as withholding the parent’s wages. The order may also spell out the penalties that may occur for delinquent payments. Individuals then must comply with these court orders.

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If an Alabama resident fails to comply with the law, serious penalties may follow. This can be particularly true when dealing with child support issues, where a host of penalties can await those who do not make court-ordered child support payments.

A recent example of this was provided by former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, who has been battling debt problems for years. Among Holyfield’s financial woes is well over $300,000 in child support he owes.

Based on Holyfield’s failure to pay child support, a child support agency may begin the process of suspending his driver’s license as a penalty. The issue will be addressed during an August hearing to see if Holyfield has made progress in his child support payments.

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Many Alabama residents dream of someday hitting the lottery jackpot. Of course, for all but a select few, this is just a fantasy. For the lucky few, however, it can be life altering.

Take, for example, the man who recently won the $338 Powerball jackpot. The man opted for the lump sum payout, amounting to about $152 million after taxes. While the man is undoubtedly joyous after hearing the surprising news, he is also dealing with the fallout from child support issues.

It was revealed the lottery winner is wanted on charges of failure to pay child support, based on $29,000 in back payments. The charges caused authorities to issue an arrest warrant for the man in 2009. Now, based on the lottery winnings, it appears the back child support will be deducted from the man’s winnings.

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For many Alabama residents, logging on to Facebook has become a habit of everyday life. While most use the website to keep in touch with friends and family, the website has become increasingly used in court cases. Family law cases are no exception, as Facebook posts can affect everything from divorce cases to child support issues.

One man recently learned this the hard way, after he posted Facebook pictures of himself holding cash and liquor. The 23-year-old man was the father of a two-year-old, but the man’s failure to pay child support for the child caused officials to investigate his Facebook page.

A court later ordered Facebook to give the district attorney’s office access to the man’s account. Based on what they found, the man was charged with a felony for failing to support his child.