Every divorce generally has a unique set of circumstances regarding money, property, and children. Divorces that involve children can get quite emotional and heated, and there tends to be quite a bit of misinformation that ends up evolving. This misinformation frequently gets proliferated, and quickly since the invention of the internet and social media! In addition, many parents do not understand what the court looks for in determining the best interest of the child. So, in this blog post I thought we would address 5 common myths regarding the issue of child support.
Myth #1: The mother always gets custody of the children. This is a very common myth, and used to be true almost across the board in the United States. This was supported by a myth that mothers were more capable and better equipped to provide for young children’s needs. However, over the past few decades, attitudes about gender roles have changed and it is no longer true that the mother is always the better parent and should automatically receive custody.
Today, the mother still does get custody in most cases, but that is because the mother has typically been the primary caregiver, even if the mother works. In addition, the younger the child, the more likely it is that the mother has the strongest parental bond with the child. This does not mean the father is unengaged or not a loving father. It’s more of a reflection on typical parenting roles when children are young.
The courts are now quite often awarding joint custody, recognizing the importance that the father has in a child’s development and in the role of child-rearing.
Myth #2: Child support money has to be spent directly on the children. This is not true. Child support payments are expected to be used for the child’s basic expenses, including food, clothing, housing, and educational needs. In addition, child support may be used to pay for the child’s related housing costs, such as telephone and utility bills, as well as childcare if both parents work. Courts do not require parents to prove the child support payments they receive go toward specific activities, except in cases where a child’s basic needs are not being met.
However, child support orders may earmark funds for specific items for the child, such as school fees, day care or medical expenses, and the child support payer may be allowed, for example, to pay tuition fees directly to the applicable school.
Myth #3: With equal joint custody, no child support will be owed by either parent. Each state is different, but in most cases child support obligations are not erased when both parents have equal joint custody. In California, the courts do consider the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and typically the amount of child support paid does decrease as the time spent with the child increases.
However, there are many other factors considered in California’s child support equation:
- How much money the parents earn or can earn
- How much other income each parent receives
- How many children these parents have together
- The actual tax filing status of each parent
- Support of children from other relationships
- Health insurance expenses
- Mandatory union dues
- Mandatory retirement contributions
- The cost of sharing daycare and uninsured health-care costs
- Other factors
Myth #4: If my ex gets remarried, the amount of child support I am required to pay will be reduced. If your ex gets remarried, in most cases this will have no effect on the amount of child support you are required to pay. As the birth parent, you are responsible for supporting your child and in most states the courts will not reduce the required child support payments due to a custodial parent’s decision to remarry.
Myth #5: If my ex remarries, the amount of child support I receive should be increased. Actually, providing child support is the responsibility of the birth parents. In general, the court only uses the parents’ income for calculation of child support and not their spouse’s. Most of the time the courts do not consider providing financial support for pre-existing children to be the legal responsibility of a new spouse.
For more information regarding child support guidelines and calculations, please visit our website. Or, feel free to call us at 714.969.9910 and we will be happy to help!
Disclaimer – The materials contained in this blog have been prepared for informational purposes only. The information contained is general in nature, and may not apply to particular factual or legal circumstances. In any event, the materials do not constitute legal advice or opinions and should not be relied up on as such.