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One-third of child support obligations may go unpaid

Parents have a legal obligation to provide for their dependent children, even after a divorce, and even if they are not the custodial parent. Courts recognize this responsibility by approving child support orders.

Yet according to a 2011 report prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau, as much as one-third of child support payments are not being made in California and across the country. In monetary terms, that amounted to over $14 billion in uncollected child support in 2011.

Admittedly, a divorced parent will have to adjust to a new financial budget, especially coming from a dual-income household. However, there is never any excuse for becoming delinquent in child support parents. If a parent’s finances have changed, a family law attorney might provide assistance by requesting a modification of the child support order.

Alternatively, if a parent simply has difficulty in remembering to make child support payments in the midst of other bills and schedules, a new software product may provide relief. The product offers services such as calendaring, third-party payment options, and tax management tools. Developers may soon be offering options for smartphone apps, as well.

Under California law, courts weight multiple factors in determining each parent’s child support obligation. A starting point might be each parent’s most recent tax return. That tax information generally indicates which parent is paying property taxes on the children’s home, gross income, the number of tax exemptions being claimed, and other indicia of financial status. In addition, other expenses, such as contributions to mandatory retirement programs, work expenses, health insurance premiums, and other costs may also be considered.

Source: The New York Times, “Software for Sorting Out Child Support,” Quentin Hardy, Dec. 26, 2013

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