Alabama child support laws are based on certain important principles: that children have the right to support from both parents and that the child’s standard of living should not suffer unduly as a consequence of the parents’ divorce. As your child support advocate, the Law Office of Judy H. Barganier and Winston W. Edwards, P.C. helps you achieve a fair child support settlement or court order based on your true financial circumstances and expectations for your income bracket. We fight for complete financial transparency and bring to the court’s attention all relevant factors necessary for a sound decision. We also assist our clients with enforcement actions for unpaid child support and motions to modify a child support order.
Alabama uses child support guidelines based on the income shares model employed by forty states, adapted to economic circumstances in Alabama. Under the income shares model, there are five steps to determining the child support obligation:
Once child support is ordered, the obligor parent makes payments to the Alabama Child Support Payment Center, and payments are distributed to the recipient parent. Child support obligations usually end when the child reaches the age of 19 or graduates from high school.
Basic child support is fairly straightforward. However, serious issues can arise, such as:
We work closely with our clients to reach favorable resolutions on these and other contentious child support issues, such as costs of special needs and enrichment activities. We are often able to achieve fair settlements through negotiation or mediation, but we are prepared to litigate aggressively in court whenever necessary to ensure your rights and your children’s are protected during and after your divorce.
Contrary to popular assumptions, there are not many deadbeat parents who are rolling in cash but who refuse to pay child support. More than 90 percent of overdue child support results from an inability to pay because of financial hardship. However, for the cheaters, Alabama does have an aggressive system of collection and enforcement. Once there is a judgment for unpaid child support, a court can order an obligor’s wages garnished, tax refunds intercepted, and assets seized. Jail for contempt of court is also a possibility when an obligor has the ability to pay but simply refuses.
Often, nonpayment of child support can be traced to a dispute over visitation. If the obligor parent feels the custodial parent is deliberately interfering with parenting time or trying to alienate the child’s affections, the obligor may feel justified in withholding support payments. This is never a good idea, because it shows the obligor in a very bad light before the court, and the custody issues take a back seat to enforcement of child support.
When an obligor simply cannot meet child support obligations, the best strategy is to return to court and ask for a modification of the support order based on a substantial change in economic circumstances. If you have evidence of a financial reversal that is expected to last, the court will likely be sympathetic. What you should not do is work out an informal amnesty with the custodial parent. You may think you’re saving time and expense, but until the court issues a new order, the old order is still enforceable. So, at any moment, the custodial parent could haul you into court for nonpayment, regardless of what you’ve agreed. In the long run, you’re always better off consulting an attorney and getting the modification you need.
The Law Office of Judy H. Barganier and Winston W. Edwards, P.C. provides dedicated representation for child support disputes during and after divorce. To schedule a consultation, call us at 334-530-5701 or contact our Montgomery office online. We are located at 8314 Crossland Loop, just off Vaughn Road, half a mile east of Taylor Road.