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Montgomery Family Law Blog

The role of DNA tests in child support cases

Those who are seeking child support in Alabama or any other state may need to first prove the identity of the child's father. In many cases, parentage is determined through a DNA test. This is because DNA tests are up to 99.99999% accurate. If a DNA test determines the father of the kid, he will likely be ordered to pay child support.

However, if the test says that a former partner is not the father, he likely won't need to support the child. It is important to note that if a man is married to the child's mother when the baby is born, he will be considered the legal father. Therefore, determining parentage is only a concern if the father is not married to the mother when the birth occurs. Many labs that conduct tests will examine a sample twice to further ensure its accuracy.

Divorce is declining, but for a surprising reason

Many people assume that the chance a couple will divorce is a high one. Though the rate is still significant, despite what many news reports might have you believe, divorce is actually going down. That 50% statistic you may have heard is outdated. Today, the number is around 39%.

What's behind this trend, researchers found, is that Millennials are divorcing less often. If that's your age demographic you might feel optimistic, and you should, but that's not the whole picture. Millennials divorce less often because they marry less often, and researchers are concerned about what that could mean for society in the future.

Voluntary impoverishment is taken seriously by the OCSE

It is not unheard of for noncustodial parents in Alabama and around the country to earn less than they are capable of or take off-the-books jobs in order to lower the amount of child support they are required to pay. This is referred to as voluntary impoverishment, and the Office of Child Support Enforcement takes it very seriously. When the OCSE suspects that a noncustodial parent is voluntarily impoverished, they may act in a number of ways.

One way the OCSE deals with voluntary impoverishment is by imputing a noncustodial parent's income. When this is done, child support awards are based on what the noncustodial parent should be earning instead of what he or she actually is making. The OCSE bases the imputed income figure on the noncustodial parent's level of education and previous earnings history. However, establishing that someone is intentionally unemployed, underemployed or hiding income can be difficult.

Protecting children from problems after divorce

Divorce can bring a huge number of changes into the lives of children in Alabama, but parents can help them through the process. It is important for parents to focus on what is best for their children and not on their conflict. Parents should avoid discussing one another negatively in front of the child and should instead focus on positively supporting the child's relationship with the other parent.

Parents should keep children informed about any schedule changes. A predictable schedule can be an important element of helping them adjust. Older children may want to participate in creating the plan. There may also be times when they prefer to spend time with their friends instead of parents, and parents should keep in mind that this is important for their social and emotional growth. Children should also feel free to express their love for their parents and stepparents.

Dealing with separate finances in a divorce

When people in Alabama decide to divorce, they may be deeply concerned about the effects on their finances. After all, the financial implications of divorce can linger on long after the emotional fallout settles. Many newlyweds are choosing to keep their banking accounts somewhat separate. This involves maintaining individual accounts or paying only part of an income into a joint account for the home and other bills. Younger people are more likely to opt for separate banking, perhaps due to the popularity of instant online transfer apps that make it easy to share funds.

Some people may opt for separate finances because they want to make it easier to handle their funds in case of a potential future divorce. However, keeping separate bank accounts is not sufficient to provide this kind of protection. Marital assets remain marital, even if only one person's name is on the account. Since Alabama is an equitable distribution state, finances and property accumulated during marriage are divided based on principles of fairness rather than strictly in half. However, this does not mean that simply keeping separate bank accounts is enough to have that income excluded from the marital pot.

Determining child support payments in Alabama

According to data from Custody X Change, the average child support payment in Alabama is $758 per month, which ranks 24th in the United States. However, there are many reasons why a parent may actually pay more or less than that per month. Child support payments are determined by a parent's ability to pay as well as any special financial needs that the child may have.

Furthermore, Alabama is one of 46 states that considers the mother's income when determining a child support payment. In some cases, the parents themselves will decide how much the noncustodial parent will provide. Ideally, this amount will help a child maintain a reasonable standard of living, and a judge may still need to approve a private agreement. Generally speaking, a parent will not be asked to make payments that he or she cannot reasonably afford.

Are you getting the child support you deserve?

Providing financial security to their children is an important part of being a parent. This is usually pretty straightforward when a child's parents are still married. After a divorce, making sure that both parents are providing the right financial support can be far more difficult. Child support agreements are supposed to make sure that one parent is providing enough financially, but this is sadly not always the case.

A significant number of parents who are supposed to be paying child support simply are not doing so. This means there are a lot of kids in Alabama who are living without a sense of financial security in their daily lives. Here is just how big the problem is.

Food stamps and child support

Divorced and single parents living in Alabama may face financial challenges. As a result, they may qualify for various types of benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program commonly referred to as SNAP or food stamps. This program provides food assistance to families and individuals in need. The United States Department of Agriculture is the federal agency responsible for managing the program, although benefits are administered by state human service agencies.

Recently, the USDA sent out a directive to state agencies encouraging the implementation of a policy that would require both custodial and noncustodial parents of children to enter into an official child support agreement as a condition of receiving SNAP benefits.

Social security benefits after divorce

Social security payments are very important for many older Alabama residents, but a divorce might lead to some confusion about whether they can still receive benefits. In cases of divorce, for people who did not work or mostly depended on their ex-spouse for financial support, benefits from that ex-spouse make up a substantial amount of their payments.

To receive benefits based on an ex-spouse's record, there are some criteria that must be met. First, that marriage must have lasted at least 10 years. An individual's own benefit should be a lower amount than that of their ex-spouse. They must be at least 62 years of age, and their ex must be eligible to receive retirement or disability benefits. To collect half of the amount of the former spouse's benefit, they must be full retirement age, which is 67 for people born after 1960. If an individual claims the benefit before that, the amount they receive will be prorated as they will be receiving a benefit for a longer period of time. They can also receive benefits from the ex-spouse's record if they have not claimed their own benefit, but to do this, they must have been divorced at least two years.

Divorce can affect life, health insurance

When Alabama couples decide to divorce, they may have to deal with a wide range of emotional, practical and financial consequences. With all of the transitions that accompany divorce, exes may think little about the insurance changes. In fact, it can be easy to miss the divorce-related ramifications to insurance policies.

The two types of policies most frequently affected by divorce are life insurance and health insurance. In terms of life insurance, some spouses may need to open a new policy. When spousal support is part of the divorce settlement, the paying spouse may be required to obtain a new life insurance policy. This would cover the support payments in case of the untimely death of the paying spouse.

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