Parents are expected to provide for their children’s needs regardless of whether they continue their relationships with their co-parents. After a break-up or divorce two parents may have many legal issues to work out regarding their kids. Once they have decided if or how they will share custody they may next address how each will financially support their children.

Child support is the payment of money from one parent to the other to help care for and raise their shared child or children. A parent who has physical custody of the children most of the time will often be the one who receives money from the other, but the custodial parent is also expected to financially provide for their kids. Courts will combine the incomes of the parents and use a formula based on the state’s guidelines to work out how much each should provide.

However, as readers may anticipate, there are many reasons that courts may diverge from the standard guidelines and models for child support. As every child is different so too are there differences in their needs. Some children may require more support for their individual health challenges or may require special services for schooling. A custodial parent who must pay for a child’s health insurance may be able to receive more support from their co-parent to cover that cost; these are only some of the many ways that child support may deviate from the standard computation.

Child support is a family law topic that may be addressed during a divorce or between two unmarried parents. It is an important way that parents may help their children even when they are no longer involved with their co-parents. Readers with questions about child support or its enforcement may consider speaking with their family law attorneys for case-specific legal advice.