The Purpose of Child Support
Child support can be a contentious topic between separated parents, but it is important to remember the benefits of these payments. Child support is meant to provide children with all of their needs, so they don’t need to struggle due to financial strain. Let’s discuss some general information about child support, how it is enforced, and how it benefits children in the long run.
What Is Child Support?
It’s no secret that kids are expensive. In Nebraska, each parent shares equal responsibility for financially supporting their child or children. If the parents are no longer together, the court may formally enforce a child support order. These are recurring payments that go toward the costs of raising children.
Who Pays Child Support?
While technically either parent can be ordered to pay child support, it is typically the noncustodial parent who pays. This is the parent who has less parenting time in the custody agreement.
Calculating Child Support
Determining a fair amount of child support is complicated. Many factors are considered, including:
- Both parents’ monthly income
- Both parents’ earning capacity (ability to make money)
- Visitation and parenting time
- Childcare expenses
- The number of children
If any of these factors change, child support orders can be modified by a judge.
What Can Child Support Money Be Used For?
Child support payments are meant to cover the child’s basic needs:
- Shelter (rent, utilities, etc.)
- School-related expenses
In some cases, the money can also go to additional enrichment activities like entertainment costs (TV, internet, movie theater tickets, etc.), or extracurriculars like sports or music lessons.
What Can Child Support Not Be Used For?
Child support money cannot go toward any expenses that don’t benefit the child or children.
- Personal items for the other parent
- Vacations the children aren’t on
- Salon trips
Even if there is leftover money that month, it should not be used for these expenses. Instead, it should be saved for the child’s future needs.
Child Support Enforcement
A child support order is legally binding. However, that doesn’t prevent complications from arising. Sometimes, parents struggle to get the child support payments they are entitled to.
Nebraska has a separate unit called “Child Support Enforcement” (CSE) which can use various different methods to enforce child support payments.
CSE has the ability to take money directly from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck and put it toward child support. For example, removing $100 from each paycheck before it is deposited, and instead giving it directly to the custodial parent.
The parent who is not paying child support may face a driver’s license suspension as punishment. This typically would not happen until multiple months have gone by with no payments having been made.
Contempt of Court
For more extreme circumstances, CSE can file a “contempt of court” action. This will require the parent who hasn’t been paying child support to go before the judge and explain why. If there is no proof of a good reason, the parent may be given jail time.
The Benefits of Child Support
Child support is not meant to be a source of tension between parents, but to support the child or children throughout their development. Ensuring that their basic needs are met and that they can live comfortably will help the children in the long run.
Child support payments also open up more opportunities for children to learn and grow.
For example, children who participate in extracurricular activities tend to:
- Perform better academically
- Have strong social skills
- Develop passion
- Learn real-world skills
Nebraska Child Support Attorneys
At Reagan, Melton & Delaney, L.L.P., we can assist with all of your child support needs. Give us a call at (402) 226-1899 to discuss your questions and concerns with one of our Sarpy County family lawyers.