This article is the fifth in a multi-part series on women’s rights in divorce cases. While divorce laws are supposed to apply equally to both spouses, there are issues unique to women in divorce worth considering. It’s essential to have a competent attorney who represents women in divorces and understands their unique experiences in these situations. If you’re wondering, what are the rights of a wife in a divorce? here are critical factors to weigh.
An important concern for mothers is child support. Child support not only helps defray the costs of raising children as a single parent but also can include issues such as who provides health insurance for the children, childcare expenses, tax benefits, and life insurance.
While every state is different, most courts determine child support using a mathematical formula called “child support guidelines.” These guidelines usually take into consideration the following factors to determine the monthly child support payment:
- Each party’s monthly gross income
- The number of days each parent has with the children
- The monthly health insurance premium payments for the children
- The monthly cost of work-related childcare for the children
The determination of each parent’s income is not as simple as looking at tax returns. Working mothers and fathers oftentimes have income from multiple sources. For instance, a parent’s base salary isn’t the only thing a court considers to be income. Income can also include yearly bonuses, stock options, overtime, expense reimbursements, and anything else the IRS may consider income for tax purposes. Another complicating factor in determining income can be when a mother is trying to get child support from a self-employed father. Many self-employed parents’ income is very difficult to determine and it’s important to have an attorney experienced in this issue representing you in your case. A court will also consider secondary income sources such as payments from rental properties, second jobs, and passive income sources like inheritances or investments.
The number of days each parent has custody of the children also plays a major role in child support determinations. For example, the more days the non-custodial parent has with the children, the less support they pay. Thus, your custody and visitation case is very important to what child support will be.
Courts will increase or decrease the monthly child support payment based on health insurance and childcare expenses. In other words, if you are the parent receiving child support and you pay for health insurance for the children and/or childcare, you will get a higher support payment. Similarly, the parent paying support could see their monthly payments lessened if they are paying health insurance and/or childcare expenses.
While child support is technically a burden shared by both parents, usually the parent who has more time with the children receives child support and the parent with less time pays child support. There are also some cases where the court will “deviate” from the guidelines and set the monthly support payment based on the unique circumstances of a particular case.
Once child support is determined, it is not permanent. For instance, child support terminates when a child is emancipated, meaning he or she turns 18 or in some states when they graduate high school. Further, child support is always modifiable. This means the court can order a new monthly payment if either party’s circumstances change. Examples of instances where child support would be modified are when one or both parents have a change in income, someone loses a job, changes in the custodial arrangement, or special circumstances that create higher than normal costs to raise the child.
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We hope this content helps answer the question, what are the rights of a wife in a divorce? If you are facing a divorce and child support is an issue, contact WhitbeckBennett to see how we can help. Our attorneys have represented countless women in divorce cases, and we are here for you in yours.