Going through a divorce is tough enough on its own, but it can be even more stressful when there are kids involved. As custody issues surface, a parent can be faced with only seeing their children half of the time or even less.
Usually, the parent with primary custody receives child support from the other parent. In cases where equal custody is awarded, the parent with more income usually pays the other parent the support amount, which is determined by agreement or the state calculator. If one parent receives primary custody, that support amount is usually higher.
Dealing with child support after divorce
While you might need financial support, it’s not necessarily easy to understand child support if you’ve never had to deal with it before, so here’s what you need to do.
Learn the laws in your state
Educating yourself as much as you can on both state and national laws about custody and support will help prepare you. It will also give you a better idea of what to do if there are any problems with child support payments in the future.
Child support is meant to cover the basic needs of the kids – namely shelter, food, medical care and clothing. Additional needs, such as day care, health insurance and education costs, may also come into play.
In New Mexico, support is calculated by taking the time each parent will spend with the child and each parent’s income into account.
Work with professionals
Since a divorce can become overwhelming, it’s vital you keep in mind that you do not have to handle every single detail on your own. Taking care of yourself is important during this time, too, so you don’t burn out. Divorce can trigger a variety of health conditions, including anxiety and depression, and it can even impact your physical health because of the stress.
You can work to prevent some of the physical and mental health risks by working with a therapist. They will help you identify, understand and communicate your emotions. A therapist can also help you develop the skills needed to cope with your emotions and work through them in practical and positive ways so you can start your post-divorce life off on the right foot.
A family law attorney is also an invaluable resource here. They can explain any confusing areas of child support to you, answer your questions and help guide you through the legal process during this time. In addition, a family law attorney will ensure your rights and interests are protected during the legal process, which is something that can be difficult for people who are doing it alone.
Remember that child support may change
Naturally, child support is sometimes fluid and changes depending on the circumstances. If you are going to receive child support, you can request an increase in the future based on financial need. If you are the parent paying support, the change must be significant before the court will change the amount you’re ordered to pay each month. This is defined by the law as a change in the child support amount of at least 20% up or down. Events such as disability and job loss can merit an adjustment in the child support order, so contact an attorney if this applies to you. Keep in mind you still have to keep paying the original support amount until the court grants your modification.
It’s important that a noncustodial parent fulfills their obligation to their children, even if they are not satisfied with the current custody situation. Whether you are the parent ordered to pay support or you are the parent who is receiving it, the more you know about the state guidelines for support, the better able you’ll be to handle the child support payment process until your children become adults.