There are many issues that require resolution when couples are going through an uncontested divorce, including but not limited to alimony and child custody. In Alabama, child support is generally a separately handled issue, though it does involve a number of legal processes and regulations.
While both parents are responsible financially for their child’s health and wellbeing in one form or another, custody arrangements and income amounts will allow the court to determine who pays and how much. It may be the case that you and your spouse can arrive at an agreement where neither of you are required to pay child support. This article will briefly cover the standard procedures and calculations for child support following a divorce, and the conditions by which parents can adjust, if not eliminate, child support payments altogether.
Calculating Child Support
With easy uncontested divorces, couples can resolve many of the more difficult aspects of their divorce on their own, without extensive involvement of courts. One issue they may need assistance with is child support. In Alabama, courts use a monthly income shares model to determine how much one party owes to the other. Courts arrive at an estimate for such payments using the following steps:
- Calculate the gross monthly income for both parents
- Divide the GMI of each parent by the total gross income in order to discover the “responsibility percentage” of each parent
- Determine what the Child Support Obligation will be using the Alabama Child Support Obligation Chart
- Multiply the number from the third step by each parent’s responsibility percentage.
If the divorcing couple is able to come to a separate arrangement, then they can go ahead with that, but typically speaking these are the guidelines that courts will follow. If any proposed increases or reductions are seen as going too far outside of the guidelines the judge will not sign off on the agreement.
Negotiating Your Child Support Payments Through Shared Custody
A shared (joint) custody arrangement is one where the parents share both physical and legal custody of their child after separating or divorcing. In these cases, both parents are equally responsible for daily and financial responsibilities. Shared custody arrangements do not necessarily eliminate the possibility of having to create a child support agreement, since even if the child rearing duties are split, one parent may invariably earn more money than the other. But there are ways in which couples can negotiate with each other, and with the court, to eliminate or lessen the impact of child support payments.
One way is a simple oral agreement that would state that they are not responsible for child support when the child is not in their care. Another way is a written agreement that could postpone or create a set payment date so that it is not monthly. And if your custody lawyer in Montgomery makes the case to the court, in writing, that the joint custody arrangement you both have established will serve the child’s best interest, without the need for regular child support payments, you will have a stronger case for eliminating them altogether.
Ultimately, whatever arrangement you come to will have to be signed off on by a judge. The court’s concern will almost always be with the child’s ongoing needs, which may mean one party has to keep paying child support.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, and real estate closings on this website. He is always available in any of the firm’s offices or by phone anytime for a consultation. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply any feedback. We appreciate our readers and love to hear from you!