Alabama Child Support Enforcement Attorney
In Alabama, the “income shares” model helps determine the child support payment amounts for each child. This model is based on each parent, making contributions in the same proportion of their income towards child support as if the couple were still a single unit.
The court uses the “income shares” model to calculate the amount an intact two-parent household would likely spend on the child, then divides it between the two ex-partners based on the proportion of their respective incomes. A larger percentage of support is assigned to the parent with the higher income, while the parent with the lower income needs to pay a smaller percentage of the child support amount.
The “Income Shares” Model: Deviations
In some circumstances, the court may allow deviation from the child support determined via the four-step process. These situations may include the following:
- Parents who share physical custody of the child, or cases in which the noncustodial parent has significant visitation rights beyond the norm
- When one parent spends substantial transportation costs to be able to visit the child
- Unearned income or assets received by (or on behalf of) the child
- College expenses paid after the child attains the age of majority
- Other aspects that the county may decide to be in the child’s best interests for child support purposes
Changes in Alabama Child Support Determination
As of June 1st, 2018, the Alabama Rule 32 Child Support Guidelines were augmented with a new amendment. This amendment pertains to cases where the child receives payments from a third-party. For example, Social Security payments made to a minor child when a parent is on Social Security Disability. Under amended Rule 32, the amount paid by a third-party to the child is now deducted from the monthly child support obligation of the noncustodial parent.
Notably, if you have gone through a paternity case or divorce in the past, your child support figure will not automatically reflect these new changes. It is best to consult a qualified family law attorney for modifications to the child support order.
If Either Parent Remarries, Will it affect the Child Support Order?
Under Alabama law, a parent’s remarriage itself will not impact child support. However, if there is a substantial change in the financial situation of a parent due to the remarriage, it may have an effect on the child support order.
For instance, if a mom receives child support from the child’s father chooses to remarry, there is most likely no grounds for child support order modification. However, if the mother’s new spouse is affluent and pays for her household expenses, courts may consider that when calculating how much the mom can pay towards the child support amount.
The income of the new spouse is not considered. The parent’s remarriage, on its own, will not affect child support in Alabama. Stemming from this, any significant change in the financial circumstances of the parents as a result of the remarriage will spark changes in the child support order.
Moreover, if the biological father in this case decides to remarry a woman that doesn’t earn an income and experiences a drastic increase in financial responsibilities, he won’t be eligible for getting the child support order reduced. The judge may not consider lowering the amount paid as child support for a father that voluntarily increases his expenses by remarrying.
Taking this into account, the court can always decide to raise the child support amount if the father remarries a woman that earns an income and contributes towards household expenses. Again, the income of the new spouse will not be directly included when calculating child support. But the court will consider the amount of money saved by the biological father on account of a part of the household expenses being taken care of by the new wife.
The Effect of New Children on a Child Support Order
It is not possible in Alabama for parents to reduce their current child support obligations by having new children. Irrespective of whether parents have kids with their new partner, take on obligations for step-kids, or adopt children, courts consider having more children as a voluntary step that should not affect the child support for kids from previous relationships. But courts will consider existing child support orders when calculating the parent’s available income to pay child support for new children.
Child Support Order Modification
For changes in your child support order, you will need to file a modification motion with your county clerk. You will need to elaborate on whether you want an increase or reduction in the child support award and why you believe you are eligible for the modification in the amount.
It will be necessary for you and your child’s other parent to appear in front of a judge and provide proof of your current income. Mere speculation that a parent’s financial situation or income has changed is insufficient. On the other hand, if you and your child’s other parent reach a consensus on a new child support figure, you can document it and present it before the court for approval.
Alabama law provides that child support payment end when the child attains the age of 19 or when they graduate from high school, or become emancipated, whichever occurs later. But if the child is attending college and is not employed, the noncustodial parent will still be under obligation to pay support.
The parents may agree to offer support to the child for a longer time. Also, if a child has a disability, a judge may direct both parents to provide ongoing support to the child even when the child becomes an adult (if they cannot support themselves).
Five Notable Issues Related to Child Support and Parenting Time in AL
Remember the following five things to ensure that you are paying or receiving the appropriate amount of child support in AL:
- The child support amounts in Alabama are based on a stringent income shares formula that involves figures such as gross monthly income and medical care premiums.
- Alabama Rule 32 enables the courts to digress from the guidelines when the visitation or physical custody rights are significantly more than those usually approved or ordered by each county in AL.
- In Alabama, there are no statewide child visitation guidelines. Instead, each separate county has its own parenting time guidelines.
- To prove your parenting time numbers in court, you must present calculations to the hour of your actual parenting time and show how that number contrasts with your county’s parenting time guidelines.
- An AL family court may order a reduction of child support due to the above-average parenting time that is higher than the county’s customary visitation guidelines.
What Do I Do If My Ex Doesn’t Pay Their Child Support?
After you obtain an order for child support, the non-custodial parent must pay the amount determined on time and as per the order, typically every week or bi-monthly. In case the non-custodial parent does not pay, it is deemed to be a violation of the order. If the payments are missed, it is possible for you to “enforce” your order.
Your child support attorney can approach the court on your behalf and request a judge to enforce your child support order and issue new orders that aim to collect support. The case may be presented to the same judge that issued the initial child support order in your case.
What Occurs when a Child Support Order is “Enforced”?
In cases where a parent doesn’t want to pay the required child support, the court can order a suspension of their passport or driver’s license or take other similar measures to ensure that they comply with the court order. But eliminating the defaulting parent’s visitation or time spent with the child is not an option.
To obtain compliance from an owing parent to pay child support, various means are available, such as:
Wage Deductions- Child support can be deducted directly from the non-custodial parent’s wages, worker’s comp, unemployment, or retirement benefits.
Credit Bureau Reporting- It is possible to report the non-custodial parent to the credit bureaus where the parent owes over $1,000 in child support, resulting in the parent facing challenges obtaining a mortgage or a loan.
Income Tax Intercepts- The state and/or federal income tax refunds of the non-custodial parent can be intercepted or redirected to the custodial parent to account for missed child support payments where the parent owes over $500.
License Suspensions and Revocations- The driver’s license, professional, sporting, and/or recreational license of the non-custodial parent can be revoked or suspended.
Passport Restrictions- The US passport of the non-custodial parent can be suspended, revoked, or the application denied where the parent owes over $5,000 in child support.
Liens- The custodial parent can acquire a lien against the non-custodial parent’s property, such as a vehicle or home so that the child support owed is paid before the property can be refinanced or sold.
Speak to a Qualified Family Law Attorney Today for Assistance with Child Support Issues
A family court judge in AL has significant latitude. Therefore, it is best for divorcing and separating parents to agree on child support before presenting in court. However, it is not always possible to arrive at an agreement.
The skilled legal team at Smith Law Firm will negotiate the child support amount on your behalf with your ex-partner and/or in court based on demonstrable need and ability to provide. We are also there to assist clients with child support modifications and enforcement. Our experienced attorneys remove emotion from the picture and focus on the best interests of the children while preserving your rights.
Schedule an initial consultation with an experienced child support lawyer at the law offices of Smith Law Firm. Call (334) 702-1744 to speak to a seasoned family law attorney today.