Children are expensive, and the importance of prompt, regular payment of child support to a custodial parent cannot be overstated. However, Browne House Law has appealed a child support modification on behalf of a parent whose child support obligation was decided without considering that parent’s ability to pay the award. Browne House is challenging a child support order that ignored the parties near-equal parenting time, and which makes it nearly impossible for parent paying support to provide for themselves.
Children are expensive, and child support laws are necessary to provide for the children of separate and divorced parents. In the most common situation a non-custodial parent who has “standard visitation” pays child support to the custodial parent according to a set formula called, the “Child Support Guidelines.” In those cases, the non-custodial parent has the children about 20% of the time and the custodial parent about 80%. Child support can be formulaic in those circumstances because the Guidelines have been carefully studied and crafted to provide a fair and appropriate amount of child support to the custodial parent who has significantly more child related expenses because the children are with them 80% of the time compared to the other parent’s 20%. What happens however, when instead of an 80/20 split, it’s a 55/45 split?
Children are expensive, and when children are in your care more often, you’re going to have more expenses. That is the case here, where the parents had a 55/45 split of time with the children. An award of child support may still be appropriate in those cases, however when making it’s decision the court should first (1) look at what support the children actually need while with the custodial parent; and (2) look at how much support the non-custodial parent can afford. One way in which a court can look at those factors is to examine not just a parent’s income, but their expenses as well – especially those spent directly on the children (so keep your receipts). In the recent Browne House Law appeal, the trial court did not look at those factors and therefore the appeals court has been asked to intervene.
A related issue in the case is how far back retroactive support can go. Retroactive support is a child support issue that often arises because there is almost always a gap in time between when a parent asks for child support to be modified and the subsequent court order modifying child support. The time period between the request and the order is often an unpaid arrearage which must be paid over time. The amount of that arrearage is often in dispute, as it is in this case. As described in an earlier post, the Court of Civil Appeals has recently had an opportunity to discuss retroactive support in the Wojtala case. Browne House’s new appeal asks the court to consider a similar question: where the child support laws direct that you can only modify child support for the months after a petition for modification is filed, can parents agree to toss that requirement?
The lawyers of Browne House have prosecuted appeals in Alabama and other jurisdictions and are ready to help you with yours. Contact Browne House Law about your appeal or child support modification today.