This is the second of two blogs discussing the law of Child Support in Alabama. In the last blog, I addressed six of the most commonly asked questions I hear concerning child support. As promised, here are six more.
7) How long am I required to pay Child Support? A child support obligation terminates upon the occurrence of one of three events: 1) the child reaching the age of majority - 19; 2) the child's emancipation through a court determination or marriage; or 3) the child's becoming self-supporting.
8) Can I be required to pay Child Support for time before my Court date? Yes. Once you are the legal parent of a minor child, you have a duty to support. The Court may order retroactive support for that time period.
9) Can I be required to pay Child Support beyond the child's reaching the age of majority, that is, beyond the child's nineteenth (19th) birthday? Yes. Alabama Courts have jurisdiction to order divorced parents to pay post-minority support their child in either of two circumstances: 1) when the child suffers from a pre-majority disability that prevents self-support; or 2) to provide assistance to children for educational purposes.
10) Can the Court take Child Support payments out of my paycheck, that is, can my wages be "garnished"? Yes. The law allows for this, however, it is not always required.
11) What happens if I do not pay Child Support? The owed support continues to add-up forming what is referred to as an arrearage. The arrearage draws simple interest at 12% per annum. The custodial parent can bring this issue to the attention of the Court by filing a petition for contempt. Oftentimes, the Department of Human Resources will assist the custodial parent in this endeavor. Also, the law allows for DHR to seek to suspend the driver's license of the payor. Finally, the Court may find the payor to be in contempt of the order to pay child support; this finding can result in jail time. I advise you retain a competent child support attorney if you face any of these issues.
12) I've got Court coming up regarding my paternity of a child and/or the possible payment of child support and/or my failure to pay ordered support. Do I need an attorney? YES!!! The money you spend on an attorney will be drastically less than the money you may end up paying if the child support figure is computed incorrectly or your rights are not protected. And know this: DHR will not care about your financial situations or how much you should pay. They will attempt to secure as high of a payment for their client as possible. So, YES, you need a Child Support Attorney.
Of course, if you face any issues surrounding child support, please don't hesitate to contact me. My best.