Birmingham Child Support Lawyer
Serving Jefferson County and Surrounding Areas
The financial support of a child is an obligation belonging to both parents, regardless of whether they are married, divorced, or were never married. In an Alabama divorce or child custody dispute, the judge will determine the appropriate amount of child support owed by the parents according to the Alabama child support guidelines. It doesn’t matter whether the other parent has primary custody or even sole custody; both parents are required by law to contribute support in accordance with Alabama law and guidelines.
Birmingham child support lawyer Candi Peeples can represent you regarding child support in your divorce or child custody case by making sure the guidelines are followed and implemented appropriately. Both parents will be required to provide information to the court. Sometimes a parent might accidentally or intentionally misstate this information, so it’s important to have a skilled and knowledgeable attorney on your side who can make sure child support is calculated correctly. Call Peeples Law in Birmingham to make sure neither you nor your children are taken advantage of in a child support case.
Alabama Child Support Guidelines
Alabama uses a set of guidelines found in the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration (ARJA) Rule 32 to determine how much child support a non-custodial parent will be required to pay a parent with primary or sole custody. This income share model takes the parents’ total combined income divided by each parent’s responsibility percentage to come up with a monthly support amount (if total combined income exceeds $240,000, child support will be based on the child’s needs and the parent’s ability to pay). This basic child support obligation is then adjusted by factors such as health insurance and healthcare costs for the child, daycare expenses, and any pre-existing obligations to pay alimony or child support.
Working through the guidelines requires manipulating a complicated formula that includes looking at educational costs for the child, the child custody plan, and any extraordinary needs specific to the child. If the child already receives payments from a third-party on behalf of the paying parent, such as the parent’s retirement or Social Security disability benefits, those payments might be credited against what the non-custodial parent must pay.
How Peeples Law Can Help With Child Support
At Peeples Law, we can do more than just guide you through the confusing Alabama guidelines and help you gather information; we can make sure both you and your co-parent are providing complete and accurate information. For example, the guidelines require both parents to report income from “any source”, which “includes, but is not limited to, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, Social Security benefits, veteran’s benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, gifts, prizes, and preexisting periodic alimony”. If the parent is unemployed or underemployed, the courts will decide how much income the parent could be earning and impute that amount of income to the parent.
Income can often be easily established with income statements, receipts and tax returns. If a parent is self-employed or a business owner, however, reporting income becomes more complicated and involves calculating gross receipts less ordinary and necessary expenses as allowed by the IRS. Our firm’s experience in high-asset divorce cases helps us determine whether income is being reported properly even under complex business arrangements, including income that might be misstated or actively concealed from the courts.
Also, Alabama courts are empowered to deviate from the guidelines when doing so is in the child’s best interests. The guideline amount is presumed to be appropriate, but that assumption can be rebutted in the following ways:
- The parties agree on a different amount and explain why a different amount is appropriate
- The judge orders a different amount based on the evidence presented by either party in court
- The court decides the guidelines amount would be unjust or inappropriate
Some of the factors that might convince the court to deviate from the child support guidelines include an unusual custody-sharing plan, high transportation costs for visitation, college expenses for the child, whether a parent is taking a tax exemption for the child as a dependent, and extraordinary child care expenses.
Peeples Law can help you and your co-parent negotiate and settle on an amount of child support that works for all parties involved. Alternatively, if you are proposing or opposing a contested motion to deviate from the guidelines, our experienced courtroom litigators can prepare and present a compelling argument to the judge. Whether deviation is or is not in your child’s best interests, we’ll make the case as strong advocates on your behalf.
Experienced Attorney for Child Support in Birmingham
For help with child support, child custody dispute, or child support modification, call Peeples Law in Birmingham at 205-403-5577. We’re here to assist with child support, child custody, parenting time, and all legal issues related to your child support matter.