Alabama Child Support
Going through a divorce with children can be a difficult process. Besides dividing your marital assets, you must also deal with matters such as child support and custody. An experienced Alabama family lawyer can work with you to ensure that your child support is calculated correctly.
Determining child support
Child support in Alabama is normally calculated according to a specific mathematical formula. The process is a lot like figuring your taxes, but simpler. The Alabama Child Support Guidelines explain the formula.
The monthly adjusted gross income is first determined. The court does this by taking the monthly gross income of both parents and subtracting pre-existing alimony and child support obligations. Each parent’s percentage of the adjusted gross income is then determined. The adjusted gross income is applied to a table, which lists monthly child support amounts based on the number of children. The table amount is the basic obligation. This basic obligation is then added to work-related care costs and health insurance costs to get the total obligation. The monthly child support obligation is then determined by applying the obligor’s percentage of gross income. The court will reduce the monthly obligation by any health insurance premiums paid by the obligor.
If a valid reason exists, the parties may agree to deviate from the child support obligation recommended by the Alabama guidelines. Under certain circumstances, an Alabama court may also order a deviation. Whether a deviation is appropriate will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your case.
Deviations in child support
Once the Alabama court calculates the amount of child support, there is a general presumption that it is correct. However, if there is a valid justification, a skilled Alabama family law attorney may be able to achieve a higher or lower award depending upon the facts of your case. Some of the factors that may lead to a downward deviation include, but are not limited to, shared physical custody or unusually liberal visitation periods. The court may also order a downward deviation if there are extraordinary costs of transportation related to the exercise of visitation. An Alabama court may order an upward deviation for the special needs of a child with a disability. One factor that requires a deviation is a combined income of the parents that is either below the minimum or above the maximum guideline table amount. If there is a sufficient justification for a deviation, the amount of child support awarded may be determined in the discretion of your Alabama judge.
How long is child support owed?
Alabama law requires both parents to provide support for a child until he or she marries, reaches the age of nineteen or becomes self-supporting. In the past, Alabama law allowed support beyond the age of nineteen in the event that a child attends college or has special needs. However, Alabama law has recently changed so that the courts can no longer award post-minority support. This recent change does not prevent parties who want to ensure their children’s college education from agreeing to some form of post-minority support on their own.
Child support modification
When there has been a material change in circumstances, an existing Alabama child support order can be changed. A modification can either increase or decrease the monthly amount. The most common example of a material change in circumstances is a change in the financial circumstances or income of either party. Another factor that an Alabama court may consider to be a material change is a change in the needs of the children. The court may also modify child support when there has been a change in health insurance premiums or work-related child care expenses. There is a presumption that child support should be modified when there is at least a 10% difference between the current amount and the new amount. A petition must be filed with your Alabama court to obtain a modification. A court cannot make any changes to the monthly child support owed before the filing of the petition except in cases where fraud in obtaining the original award exists.
Contact The Burleson Firm
The Burleson Firm has helped families in Alabama with child support issues for over twenty years. If you are a party to an Alabama child support case, we can advise you on how to increase your chances of a successful outcome. Let The Burleson Firm schedule a no-obligation conference with a serious Alabama family law attorney to assist you with these issues.
For a free phone consultation, call us at 1 (205) 795-2033.