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Are assumptions about child support fair?

Courts will sometimes make assumptions when it comes to child support payments and the amount that needs to be paid by each parent. While these may be an unavoidable part of the process, it can be argued that assumptions don't always tell the whole story.

For example, imagine that one parent has sole custody of his or her child. The court is then going to ask the other parent to pay child support, which is intended to be roughly half of the money needed to raise the child. The parents are supposed to split this cost, just as they would have done if they'd stayed married.

However, the assumption made by the court is that the custodial parent is naturally going to end up paying half, and the support payments are going to balance things out. The custodial parent, after all, has a lot of more direct costs -- paying rent, paying the utilities and buying food, for example.

This assumption can be incorrect in either direction. Some custodial parents may give almost none of their own money to the child, counting exclusively on the support payments for 100 percent of the funding that is needed -- which is not fair to the child or the non-custodial parent. Other parents may actually end up spending much more on raising the child than the support payments provide, having to cover costs out-of-pocket, meaning they're unfairly paying over 50 percent.

As you can see, figuring out accurate financial projections is very important. If you think the support payments that have been ordered in California are unfair, look into your legal options.

Source: Money Crashers, "What Is Child Support – Laws & Guidelines for Payments," Miranda Marquit, accessed July 15, 2016

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