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Critical points to remember about child support payments

Even if parents divorce, both parents are expected to help with the cost of raising the children. This is accomplished by ordering one parent to make payments to the other parent. These are known as child support payments. California, like other states, has a predetermined method for deciding which parent pays and how much each payment will be.

When it comes to child support, the stress often comes as a result of the financial impact of these payments. Here are some points to remember about child support payments:

Payments are for the child, not the parent

It is easy to fall into the mode of thinking that child support payments are for the parent who receives them. This isn't the case. The payments are actually for the child, but the parent is the adult who handles the payments since children aren't responsible enough. This doesn't mean that the parent will keep the funds separated. They can be put in with other funds to pay rent, utilities and other bills that the household has. Ultimately, child support payments only cover a portion of what it costs to raise a child.

Court orders aren't merely suggestions

You must follow the child support order as it is written by the court. Of course, it is possible for a parent to pay more than the required payment, but you shouldn't ever pay less. When you don't pay at least the ordered amount of child support, you face legal consequences. Your child might also suffer if the child isn't able to get what he or she needs because you didn't provide that support. Around 30 percent of custodial parents never receive child support payments, even if the payments were ordered by the court.

Child support isn't dependent upon visitation

Child support and child custody are matters that are intertwined since they pertain to the same child. Even though this is the case, they aren't dependent upon each other. That is, a child can't be kept from a parent just because child support is late and a parent can't refuse to pay child support if he or she doesn't see the child. When visitation or parenting time are ordered, the parent has a right to that time, even when child support payments are late or nonexistent. Any issues with child support payments should be handled through legal channels instead of withholding access to the child to get back at the parent. If a parent withholds access to the child, that parent can also face legal consequences.

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