Child Support Myths

There are often more questions than answers when it comes to paying child support. If you have any questions or concerns, it’s always wise to consult with an experienced child support lawyer who can help you better understand all of your rights. Child support is not about punishing a parent or supporting a former spouse. The court’s sole interest when awarding child support is protecting the children and ensuring their happy future. However, there are many popular myths about child support that you may have heard that are not true.

First Myth: The Father Automatically Pays The Child Support

Although it may be stereotypical for the father to always pay child support, after the divorce settlement, the mother may, in fact, be the one who pays. Polling data from 2015 concluded that 38% of married women in the United States earned more than their husbands, a factor that the courts consider when deciding which parent must pay child support. To determine who pays child support, the courts do not base the decision on gender roles, and the court does not prefer one parent over the other. Instead, they look at each spouse’s disposable income, ability to earn, and consider the custody agreement. Using this information, the court will decide how much child support should be paid and by whom.

Second Myth: The Only Way to Get Child Support is Through Divorce

There are several ways for single parents to qualify for child support, even without going through a divorce. Here are a few:

  •  Non-marital separation
  • Pending divorce settlements
  • Separate Maintenance actions

Again, the court awards child support based solely on the needs and the best interests of the child. The laws are designed to ensure that children have enough financial resources, no matter what their parents’ marital status happens to be at the time. Parents who are concerned about their child’s nutritional needs, educational experience, or medical requirements may be able to petition the court for financial support through a child support order. If the couple chooses to legally separate, a Separate Maintenance action may be deemed appropriate by the court.

Third Myth: Neither Parent Is Responsible For Child Support If There Is Joint Custody

Joint custody is a beautiful solution for families going through a divorce, but it doesn’t mean that child support is not necessary for the well-being of the children. When the couple can agree on joint custody, both parents can expect to spend similar amounts of time with the children, as well as equal parenting rights. Although it may seem like both parents should share equal financial responsibility, the Georgia courts will take the child’s needs into consideration first and foremost. Each parent’s financial situation will be evaluated and used to determine if and how much one spouse should pay in child support payments if there is a considerable financial discrepancy. Joint custody does not automatically mean there is no child support.

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