In a Marriage Breakup, Who Pays for Child Support?

If you've been married for some years and have children, a breakdown in the relationship can be devastating. Such a breakdown can often be caused by a disagreement that may worsen as the separation process continues, and in this case, it may be hard to agree on financial matters going forward. Yet how does the legal system view this type of situation, and if you are the mother in this relationship, is the father required to pay all of the child support?

Both Parties Contribute

Some people may think that the father is automatically required to pay child support as, traditionally, fathers are often seen as the "breadwinner." However, this is not how the system works, and a family court will take into account many factors before they come up with a decision.

Income Versus Time Spent

These days it is increasingly likely that both parents will work or have an independent means of income, and this will certainly be considered before any financial judgement is made. The court will also need to take into account how much time the children will spend with each adult, as this will have a bearing on the likely expenditure on each side.

Making Calculations

For example, if it is found that the children will spend most of their time with the father, then the mother may need to contribute more to the child support "pot" if their earning ability remains equal. Yet, in this case, if the father does earn more than the mother, this fact may reduce the amount due from the mother accordingly. If both the father and the mother earn the same amount of money and split the parenting duties equally between them, they will need to contribute an equal amount towards child support.

Online Estimation

Of course, this can be difficult to calculate, and a court will need to study the situation with care before coming up with a judgement. However, if you want to get an idea of how much you will need to provide in child support, the federal Department of Human Services has a handy child-support estimator. Of course, you'll need to get the relevant information from the other party, and the result will only be an estimate.

Independent Advice

As you will want to be as prepared as possible for what's ahead and may require more accurate detail, talk everything through with a family lawyer.