The laws governing child support in Alabama are different from that of other states. AL child support law sets how much the child maintenance should be, and the duration of such payments, plus it seeks to guide parents in exceptional cases such as deviation, support for disabled children, and retroactive support.
As you may already know, child support (or child maintenance) is a continuous monetary payment made by a spouse to another spouse, guardian, caregiver, or the state for the upkeep of children after a divorce or separation.
The person who is required to pay child support is referred to as the “obligor,” whereas the person who is eligible to receive child maintenance is referred to as the “obligee.”
What is AL Child Support Laws?
In Alabama, the obligee is typically always the person who is owed child support, and most likely has primary custody of the child This means this person lives with, caters for the child, and has primary custody of the child.
The obligor is typically always the spouse who pays all or majority of the child support, as he/she doesn’t have primary custody of the children and may or may not have custody or access to them.
the AL law stipulates among other things that the parents will split the total child support obligation, according to their respective adjusted gross incomes. To determine each parent’s obligation, the overall child-support obligation is multiplied by each parent’s percentage share of their combined adjusted gross income. It is assumed that the custodial parent will use their portion of the child’s support directly.
What does Child Support Cover in Alabama?
Child support pays for any costs incurred by the custodial parent in caring for your child. The custodial parent is not required to disclose how the child support money is spent.
Contact a child support lawyer if you suspect the custodial (recipient) parent is squandering the payments and not adequately caring for your child. You may also be able to take the case to court based on the circumstances and the evidence of misuse you have.
Child support payments in AL are meant to cover expenses like:
- child care expenses
- dental expenses
- health care
- extracurricular activities, and
Child Support When One Parent Lives Outside Alabama
To enforce child support orders beyond state boundaries, each state has to have the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) in place. Alabama is no exception.
The UIFSA ensures that child support processes and procedures are consistent across states. When one spouse lives in another state where the Alabama courts do not have authority to adjudicate or enforce orders, UIFSA reduces these bottlenecks.
As a result of the UIFSA, an AL child support attorney can take legal action against a spouse who now lives in another state to enforce a child support order.
How is Child Maintenance Calculated In Alabama?
To calculate child maintenance, Alabama uses the Income Shares Model. This model calculates the entire amount that a healthy two-parent family should probably spend on their children, then divides it equitably between both parents based on their incomes. A larger proportion of support is paid by the parent with the higher income.
The Alabama Child Support Guidelines lay out the basic support amounts as well as the rules for distributing those funds between parents. Check Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration and its attached forms and schedules like:
- The Child-Support-Obligation Income Statement/Affidavit (Form CS- 41),
- Child-Support Guidelines worksheet (Form CS-42) and
- Basic Child-Support Obligation Schedule
If any one of you has exclusive physical custody of your child while the other is a noncustodial parent with a pretty normal visitation schedule (switching weekends, some holidays, and some unhindered time during the summer), you can approximate the noncustodial parent’s child support commitment by filling out Forms CS-41 and CS-42. (The noncustodial parent pays support since courts assume the custodial parent’s portion of the direct cost of supporting children is already covered.)
When calculating or estimating, the first step though is to calculate each parent’s gross monthly income.
Gross Income Included in Calculating Child Maintenance
Gross income is a broad term that refers to all sources of revenue. The official definition of income can be found on Form CS-41. A few items, such as public assistance benefits and child support paid to children from past partnerships, are not counted as income. A parent who pays court-ordered child support or alimony from a previous relationship might deduct those payments from gross income to arrive at adjusted gross income.
For child support calculation purposes, gross income may include:
- all wages and salary, including commissions, military pay, tips, overtime, and bonuses
- self-employment income
- interest and dividends
- net rental income from property the parent owns
Even jobless parents are likely to have some sources of income, like:
- severance pay
- unemployment benefits
- retirement benefits
- veterans’ benefits
- disability benefits, or
- workers’ compensation awards.
An AL family court judge may also allocate an income value to parents who do not currently have income-earning employment (like a second house). If a jobless parent inherits assets that can be sold, for instance, the judge may include the property’s market value as a part of such parent’s income.
Where parents willfully go unemployed or underemployed in order to avoid paying child support, judges may infer (assign) income based on what they are supposed to be earning.
Net Income for AL Guidelines
Remove the following costs from the total gross income to get the parent’s net income for paying child support in Alabama:
- Social Security taxes, or any mandated retirement plan contributions if the parent does not pay those taxes.
- Income taxes, both federal and state (based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one exemption)
- union dues
- The AL court has ruled the parent to pay the child’s health and dental insurance premiums, as well as additional medical bills.
Parents who have already paid child support for another kid or children (from a previous relationship) may be eligible for a refund.
How Alabama Guidelines are Applied
The AL court will use child support guidelines, which are law-based and are sometimes known simply as “Guidelines. Guidelines establish a fundamental minimum amount of child maintenance, from which the court can differ after considering a variety of considerations.
Here’s how to figure out how much child support you’ll have to pay each month in Alabama.
Steps for Calculating AL Child Support
Get both parents’ gross monthly income. (If applicable), s subtract the amount of child support paid by either parent in a previous relationship from that parent’s gross monthly income.
Divide each parent’s gross monthly income by the gross income total. This provides you with the percentage of each parent’s obligation.
Check your child support obligation using the Alabama Child Support Obligation Chart. Include any daycare expenses as well as the children’s monthly insurance premiums.
Multiply the result from the 3rd step by the percentage of each parent’s obligation (obtained in 2nd step).
Answer the following question: Does the custodial parent pay for the children’s insurance? If that’s the case, the expected monthly payment for the noncustodial parent is the figure you came up with. If the noncustodial parent pays insurance, the projected amount is calculated by subtracting the insurance payment from the noncustodial parent.
These calculations can be done easily using the Alabama Child Support Calculator or Child Support Worksheet.
Alabama Child Support Calculator or Worksheet: Which to Use?
While a child support calculator can be used to estimate child support, it is not a guarantee of the final amount of child maintenance that the judge will order. A child support worksheet is a form used by the AL courts (or negotiating spouses) to approximate the basic child support obligation of the parents.
Regardless of which approach you use, spouses can decide on a child support sum and amend the worksheet accordingly to ensure it accurately reflects their agreement. Both establish a presumption duty to pay child support.
The final decision on the amount of child support is made by the administrative law judge, administrator, or court.
Child Support Payments in Alabama: Variables to Consider
In some situations, parents could share physical custody of their children. If this is the case, it is thought that the paying parent will have a higher financial obligation as a result of devoting more time to the kid, and the court may reduce the child support payment to reflect this.
Extraordinary Transportation Costs
If the noncustodial parent needs to travel a long distance to see the kid, these expenses can be deducted from the total support payment.
Minor Children’s Unearned Income
A minor child’s income might come from a variety of ways. This earnings may be taken into account when calculating child support payments.
Parents’ Inheritance Income
If any parent earns interest income from a substantial inherited lump sum, this might be included in their gross monthly income when calculating the amount.
Is Medical Health Insurance Part of Child Support in Alabama?
Yes, in addition to the amount of support determined by the guidelines in Alabama, the parents will be responsible for the child’s health and dental insurance.
Whereas the noncustodial parent is presumed to provide coverage, this can readily be transferred to the other parent if it makes good sense.
For instance, suppose the custodial parent’s employer offers healthcare insurance for the dependent but the noncustodial parent does not.
Factors Alabama Courts Consider Before Ordering Maintenance
The following factors must be considered by the court when determining whether Alabama Family Code applies:
- The age of the child and needs; the parents’ ability to assist
- Financial resources available to the child
- For a set period of time, you have custody and access to a child.
- An increase or decrease in the obligee’s earnings or income due to the obligee’s property and assets
- Child care expenses incurred by either parent in order to keep a job
- any other children under the care of either party
- Any other children under the care of either party
- What kind of alimony or spousal maintenance is being paid or received;
- Obligor or obligee receives an automobile, house, or other benefits from his or her employer or business entity.
- The parties or the child’s special education, health-care, or other expenses
- The cost of traveling to obtain custody of and access to a child.
- Cash flow from any estate and assets, including real estate, personal property, and business property, can be positive or negative.
How to Challenge or Modify Child Support Order
Any parent (or other individuals with legal custody) might petition the court for additional support or a reduction in the amount of maintenance. A parent must show that there’s been a substantial change in circumstances in order to alter child support. An Alabama court may consider an alteration if:
- a parent’s employment has been lost,
- migrated to another country,
- Alternatively, if the custody agreement has changed.
Steps to Request Modification from A Court
These forms must be completed and filed:
- Change in Child Support Request (Form PS-02)
- Income Statement/Affidavit for Child Support Obligation (Form CS-41)
You can get these forms from:
- Court clerk
- from these links
For PS-02, Click here
For CS-41, Click here
Show the original forms, as well as two copies, to the clerk of the court in the same county as your present child support orders.
A filing fee must be paid in cash or by money order. The exact sum will be determined by the court clerk. If you are unable to pay the fee, you must additionally complete the Affidavit of Substantial Hardship (Form C-10A) to inform the court of your income and expenses.
Click Here to download the form
However, do not sign it yet until you have sworn in front of the notary that the information is correct. If the fees can be postponed, the judge will make the decision.
The court clerk will then:
– Date-stamp all of your documents.
– Keep 2 copies for the records of the court, and
– Give you a copy with a date stamp as your records
A copy of your court forms will be served (sent or mailed) to the other parent by the clerk. This way, the other parent will know exactly what you’re asking for and when it’s time to appear in court.
A date will be fixed by the court and there will be a court hearing. You and the other parent will each have an opportunity to present your case.
While appearing at the hearing, go along with financial documents and other proof that the change you’re seeking is justified, such as your most recent:
- W-2s, pay stubs, and tax returns
- Statements from Social Security (if you receive disability benefits), or
- statements from the bank
You are also allowed to call witnesses who are aware of the financial fluctuations.
The judge will make his decision during or after the hearing. You may contact the court clerk if you have not received the judge’s ruling within 45 days after your hearing.
Additionally, if the legal order has been in existence for at least 3 years and the current support amount differs by 20% or $100 from the most recent Guidelines, the obligor may visit the Office of Attorney General Child Support Division (OAG) to explore modifying it.
Steps to Collect Child Support in Alabama
Getting a child support order in place is only half the struggle in Alabama. You’ll also have to collect the money itself. A noncustodial parent is responsible for paying the full amount of child maintenance per month as imposed by the court. Here are the steps for getting child support in AL
1. Open a Child Support Case
Complete the following forms at your local child support agency/office
- an Application for Child Support Services,
- a Case Information Worksheet, and
- an Affidavit of Income
- a small filing fee (in most cases)
2. Locate the Other Parent
To begin the child maintenance procedure in AL, the child support services (CSS) office will use the information provided by the applying parent, as well as information gathered from other sources, to try to locate the other parent.
3. Establish Parentage
It’s critical to establish a legitimate relationship with the child when the other parent has been located. The state will assist you in locating the sufficient means. Parents can choose to acknowledge their parentage voluntarily or organize a genetic screening.
4. Establish a Child Support Order
An Alabama child support order specifies how much the other parent should pay and includes details such as the payment schedule and provisions for the child’s health insurance.
5. Set Up Payment
Deducting child maintenance from a parent’s paycheck and transferring the money to the other parent or guardian is the most typical method of payment. It’s a simple way to make and track child support payments.
6. Enforce the Support Order
Your AL child support services will enforce the child support order if the noncustodial parent does not pay the full amount or does not pay any. Exposing overdue child support payments to credit bureaus, intercepting income tax refunds, and Withholding child maintenance from unemployment or worker’s compensation benefits are examples of other enforcement measures.
7. Review the Order
Three years after the order is issued, either parent can request their local child support office to revise it. They can ask for a reassessment sooner than three years if a parent’s situation has changed significantly, such as loss of employment or imprisonment.
Alabama Child Support Services Office, Number and Login Portal
Alabama Child Support Payment Center. ACSPC. P.O. Box 244015. Montgomery, AL 36124. Phone: 1-800-284-4347
Alabama Department of Human Resources – County Office Contacts
Main Number (205) 258-4900.
Child Support Information (205) 258-4900.
Family and Child Services (205) 258-4900.
Department of Human Resources. DHR. 3030 Mobile Highway. Montgomery, AL 36125. Phone: (334) 293-3100.
Montgomery County District Attorney. Child Support Enforcement Unit. 251 S. Lawrence Street.
Retroactive Child Support and Arrears
The consequences of not paying child support orders in Alabama can be very dire. The penalty may include a jail term.
To persuade an owing parent to pay child support, the Alabama Department of Human Services (CSED) employs the following strategies to the non-custodial parent:
- wage deductions
- reporting to the credit bureaus (if owing more than $1000)
- income tax intercepts
- suspension or revocation of driver’s, professional, sporting and/or recreational license
- lien on property
For any of these means of enforcement to be effective, the noncustodial parent must be notified or alerted of the CSED action. The limitation will be revoked after the debt is paid in full and proof of payment is submitted.
If you feel the arrears are being demanded wrongly, you can learn how to get child support arrears dismissed HERE.
How to Pay Child Maintenance in Alabama
In Alabama, parents can pay child maintenance in a variety of ways, as long as your order doesn’t state otherwise:
- by debit or credit card,
- bank transfer
- direct deposit
- income withholding, or
- auto-draft from a bank account.
How to Check your Child Support Payment History in AL
When there are disagreements between the parents and a need to confirm how much money is owed, child support payment records are extremely beneficial.
By providing your social security number, you can get information on child support payments and arrearage balances.
- Child Support Voice Response System – 1-800-284-4347.
- Online Payment Information via MyAlabama.gov.
When Does Child Support End in Alabama?
The Alabama court “may order that one or both parents to support a child until:
- the child is 18 years or finishes high school (whichever comes last),
- the child emancipates by getting married,
- the child’s disabilities are removed, or
- the child dies.
Nevertheless, if the judge determines that the child is disabled (physically or mentally), the child can receive support perpetually.
What is the Average Child Support Payment in AL?
The average monthly payment for Alabama is $758, the 24th highest in the US
Legal Custody Rights of a Child in Alabama
According to Alabama law, the court may award custody to either the father or the mother as the court sees fit after considering the parents’ moral character and prudence, as well as the children’s age and gender. Ala. Code § 30-3-1 (1975).
Alabama divorce courts have the fundamental ability to impose orders regarding custody and care of minor children, in addition to the legislative authority granted under Alabama divorce legislation.
How Does AL Child Support Work if one Parent Has no Job?
Whenever there is a “substantial change in circumstances,” a parent in Alabama can adjust their child’s support. It’s frequently tough to show that your situation has changed significantly (after the first child support order was imposed) in normal times.
If a court determines that either parent deliberately became unemployed (or underemployed), the judge will assume income by calculating child support based on an estimate of the income which the parent could generate with good faith effort (not the lower wages). The judge will decide the parent’s recent employment history, education, and vocational qualifications, as well as the community’s current job options and income levels.
Is Child Support Tax Deductible in Alabama?
NO. In Alabama, child support payments are neither taxable to the recipient nor tax-deductible by the payer as stated by the IRS. Don’t include child support payments when calculating your gross income to see whether you have to file a tax return.
However, either parent may be eligible for a dependency exemption per child. If the parents can’t agree on who receives the exemption, the judge will set out the terms in a court order.
Getting a Skilled Alabama Child Support Attorney
If you are involved in a family law matter in Alabama, you may have a lot more questions than answers at this moment. You are not alone; Correspondence with members has shown that using the services of specialized child support attorneys saves a lot of hassles and most importantly, ensures you come out as a winner for you and your kid.
If you need to fight your child maintenance cause in AL with confidence, then you’ll need attorneys that are both empathetic and strong.
Luckily, we have compiled a database of these expert child support lawyers and made them available for the convenience of our members. You can reach them at the click of a button for legal advice and representation on child maintenance.
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- Grants and Assistance for Single Mothers in Alabama