Child support is payment from one spouse to another for support of the children after a divorce or separation. Normally, child support stops when a child turns 18 years old, unless the child is still a full-time student. If the child is a full-time student, the child support can continue until the child turns 21 years old. Child support cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and is not considered as income by the receiving parent or as a tax deduction by the paying parent.
The federal government requires all states to adopt child support guidelines. The formula takes into consideration custody arrangements, how much parenting time each parent has, the income of the parents, the total number of children, unusual medical expenses, day care expenses, and insurance, among other factors. The result of the computation is called the "basic" support amount, which can be adjusted by the court based on several unusual items. Many states have child support enforcement divisions, which can help get child support by bringing actions in court to get child support orders, locating deadbeat parents and getting their income and employment information.
In general, child support obligations will terminate once the child reach the age of majority, unless the child is in college (in which case the parent is still obligated), or if the child has been declared emancipated by a court. Child support obligations will also terminate if a parent's rights and responsibilities are terminated, because, for instance, the child is adopted by someone else.
Generally, child support is paid by the noncustodial parent, as the custodial parent's obligations and responsibilities are fulfilled by having custody. This doesn't necessarily mean that a mother would not have to pay child support to a father who has custody - the mother has the same duty as the father would if he didn't have sole custody. Moreover, an unmarried father - who is acknowledged as the biological father - will also be responsible for paying child support.
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