Mother holding hand of her child

Child Support FAQ

Shep Law Group  April 17, 2024

The subject of child support raises numerous questions for parents and guardians, ranging from how payments are calculated to what steps to take if the other parent is non-compliant. It's a critical aspect of ensuring the financial well-being of children after a separation or divorce. 

At Shep Law Group, we aim to demystify the subject of child support. Our dedicated team, based in Boise and Meridian, Idaho, is committed to guiding our clients throughout Ada County, Canyon County, and statewide with professionalism, empathy, and informed advice. Here, we aim to address some of the most frequently asked questions about child support, providing clarity and support every step of the way. 

What Is Child Support? 

Child support is a financial obligation paid by one parent to the other, primarily for the care and well-being of their shared children. This support covers a wide range of expenses, from basic needs like food and clothing to educational fees and healthcare costs. It's designed to ensure that a child's living standards are maintained regardless of their parents' relationship status. 

Who Is Required to Pay Child Support? 

Typically, the non-custodial parent, or the parent who spends less time with the child, is required to pay child support to the custodial parent. This arrangement supports the custodial parent in covering various expenses related to raising the child. However, both parents' incomes and the time each parent spends with the child are considered when determining the payment amount. 

How Is Child Support Calculated? 

In Idaho, child support calculations follow specific guidelines set forth by the state. These guidelines consider several factors, including the income of both parents, the number of children, and their needs, among others.  

The calculation of child support in Idaho adheres to the Idaho Child Support Guidelines, which establish a formulaic approach to ensure fairness and consistency. Key aspects of these regulations include: 

  • Income Shares Model: Idaho uses the income shares model, which bases the child support amount on the combined income of both parents, allocating proportional responsibility. This approach intends to maintain the financial support the child would have received if the household had remained intact. 

  • Gross Income Consideration: The guidelines consider the gross income of both parents, which can include their wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, dividends, pensions, and any other form of income. Certain deductions, such as those for other child support payments or specific health care costs, can be subtracted from their gross income. 

  • Child Support Schedule: The state provides a basic child support schedule that matches combined parental income with the number of children to suggest a basic support amount. This table is periodically updated to reflect economic changes. 

  • Adjustments: Adjustments to the basic support amount can be made based on factors such as the cost of child healthcare, educational expenses, and shared custody arrangements. Each parent's contribution to these costs is considered in light of their proportional income. 

  • Special Circumstances: The guidelines allow for adjustments under special circumstances, such as when a child has extraordinary medical, educational, or other needs that require additional support. 

The goal of Idaho's child support regulations is to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of financial responsibility among parents based on their ability to pay while prioritizing the welfare and needs of the child(ren) involved. To accurately calculate child support, it is advisable to consult with an experienced legal professional who can provide guidance tailored to the specifics of each individual case. 

Can Child Support Agreements Be Modified? 

Yes, child support agreements can be modified. Life circumstances change, and an existing child support arrangement might no longer reflect the current financial situation of either parent. In such cases, either parent can request a review and modification of the child support order, provided they can demonstrate a significant change in circumstances. 

What Happens If Child Support Is Not Paid? 

Failing to pay child support can lead to a range of serious consequences, not just for the parent in arrears but also for their children who depend on these payments. Authorities take the enforcement of child support orders very seriously.  

If payments are not made as ordered, several enforcement mechanisms can be put into action. These may include wage garnishment, intercepting tax refunds, suspension of driver's licenses, and even arrest in severe cases. Additionally, non-payment can negatively impact one's credit rating and lead to legal actions, such as contempt of court, which could result in fines or jail time.  

It's important for any parent experiencing difficulty making child support payments to seek legal advice promptly, as there may be options available, such as modifying the support order, to better match their current financial situation. 

How Do Child Support and Custody Arrangements Interact? 

Child support and custody arrangements are separate yet interconnected aspects of family law. While custody arrangements outline how parenting responsibilities are shared, child support ensures that financial responsibilities are met. Both are determined with the child's best interests as the primary focus. 

What Are the Tax Implications of Child Support? 

Child support payments do not count as taxable income for the recipient, nor are they tax-deductible for the payer. This differentiates child support from alimony payments, which have different tax implications. 

Does Child Support Cover College Expenses? 

Child support typically ends when a child reaches the age of majority. However, some states allow for extended support to cover college expenses. The specifics can vary, and it's essential to consult with legal counsel to understand how this applies in your case. 

Can Child Support Be Agreed Upon Without Going to Court? 

Yes, parents can reach an agreement on child support without court intervention. However, it's advisable to formalize any agreement through the court to ensure enforceability and to provide a clear record of the agreed terms. 

Does Remarriage Affect Child Support Obligations? 

Generally, remarriage does not directly affect a parent's child support obligations. The responsibility to support one's children exists independently of the parent's marital status. However, certain aspects, such as household income changes, may indirectly influence the calculation of support. 

How Is Child Support Enforced Across State Lines? 

Child support enforcement is a national concern, and all states cooperate to ensure compliance, even when parents live in different states. Various federal laws and interstate agreements facilitate the enforcement of child support across state lines. 

Are There Special Considerations for Parents With High Incomes? 

Yes, for parents with significantly high incomes, standard child support guidelines might not directly apply, and the support amount may be adjusted to meet the children's needs appropriately while considering the parents' financial capabilities. 

What Resources Are Available for Parents Struggling to Make Child Support Payments? 

For parents facing difficulties with child support payments, resources are available, including legal assistance, modification options, and sometimes state-specific programs aimed at supporting both parents in fulfilling their obligations. 

Shep Law Group Is Here to Answer Your Questions

At Shep Law Group, we're here to help you through child support issues with compassion, understanding, and expert guidance. Whether you're establishing, modifying, or enforcing a child support order, our team is dedicated to achieving outcomes that serve the best interests of your children while respecting your rights and financial capabilities. Remember, you're not alone in this process, and with the right support, you can find a path forward that works for everyone involved.