child support without child custody

Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Do Not Have Custody Rights in Alabama?

As you know, child support is among the most contested divorce-related issues, and as such, oftentimes, the spouse who is ordered to pay child support feels as though he or she should not have to make such payments, for one reason or another. This is especially true when the supporting parent does not have custody of the child. Please continue reading and speak with our Alabama family law attorneys to learn more about child support and how our firm can help you.

How do Alabama courts determine child support?

When determining child support in Alabama, courts will analyze various facets of you and your spouse’s lives, as well as that of your child. One of the most important factors that the courts will consider is which spouse was the financially dependent spouse in the marriage.

In most cases, as long as the financially dependent spouse has at least partial custody of the child, there is a very good chance that the financially independent spouse will have to make regular child support payments to the dependent spouse. Remember, the primary concern of the courts is the well-being of your child, and the amount of support the courts determine a parent has to pay will reflect the amount they believe is necessary to provide the child with a sufficient quality of life.

To determine the amount of child support that should be paid in divorce and paternity cases, Alabama uses an “income shares” model. With this model, the court essentially totals the combined income of both parents (as if the household were still intact) then divides the income proportionately based on the individual income of each parent.

Here is an example of how this might play out. Let’s say that Bob and Karen are getting a divorce, they have one minor child, and Karen will receive primary physical custody of the child. Bob earns $4,000 per month in pre-tax income, Karen earns $1,000, and the total child support obligation is $1,000 per month.

In this scenario, Bob earns 80% of the combined household income and Karen earns 20%. Therefore, the court would order Bob to pay Karen 80% of the $1,000 monthly child support obligation, which would be $800.

This is a hypothetical example of how the income shares model might be applied in determining child support in Alabama, and it is provided for informational purposes only. There may be specific factors present with any given case that may alter this formula in one direction or another.

Do I have to pay child support even if I do not have custody of my child?

You must first understand that in Alabama, child support is not dependent on child custody. This means that even if you do not have custody of your child, if Alabama courts determine that you will have to make support payments, you must do so. Failing to make support payments can result in serious consequences–even jail time. That being said, there are times where you may request a modification to your support agreement.

For example, if you are the supporting parent and your child is either financially independent or your child has reached the age of emancipation, you may request the termination of your child support agreement. There might also be circumstances that could warrant a lowering of your support payment, such as the loss of employment, a severe health condition, or another serious adverse event.

On the other hand, if you are the supported parent and your child either has special needs or is attending higher education, you may request an extension of your child support payments. A supported parent might also request an increase in child support if the paying parent experiences a significant amount of good fortune, such as a large pay increase or a large inheritance.

Regardless of your circumstances, our firm is here to help. All you have to do is give us a call today to set up a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys.

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Stone Crosby, P.C. has proudly served clients in Alabama for over 100 years. Our firm has experience handling matters including divorce and family law, estate planning and administration, business law, employment law, class actions, consumer protection, business law, real estate law, among many others. If you require quality legal representation, contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.