Jones, Hawkins, & Associates, LLC
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Montgomery Family Law Blog

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.

How past baggage, resentment and more can end a marriage

Some Alabama couples might assume that the reason couples get a divorce is because of serious betrayals, such as infidelity. However, many common behaviors that seem innocuous can cause a relationship to deteriorate over time. For example, failing to take a partner's emotions seriously can mean contradicting the person's feelings in small ways. Eventually, it adds up.

Some couples may think they should strive for avoiding conflict, but conflict avoidance means issues get ignored instead of resolved. These unresolved issues can poison the marriage. Marriages can be destroyed by a person's bad experience in a previous relationship as well. If there is unresolved trauma and the person expects the same behaviors that destroyed a previous relationship from a current partner, that expectation can lead to jealousy or other issues that damage the current relationship.

Understanding child support and the roles of the ACDD and ACPC

So, you were under obligation to pay support for your children as part of your divorce settlement. Wondering how that will work exactly? You would think it would be as simple as handing over cash or writing a check to your ex, but child support does not work that way in the state of Alabama. Here, the Alabama Central Disbursement Division and the Alabama Central Payment Center play big roles in collecting and distributing support funds.

There is a big difference between the ACPC and the ACDD. The ACPC collects support funds automatically withdrawn from paychecks or payments mailed directly from parents ordered to pay support. The ACDD is actually responsible for dispersing the funds to support receiving parents. Local clerks of court and the Department of Human Resources used to do this. However, federal and state law now requires that the distributing of funds occur in one central location.

Courts more open to shared custody than in past

Alabama mothers who get a divorce are still more likely to be awarded more time with their children than fathers are, but courts generally assume parents will share legal custody. Legal custody allows the parent to make decisions about a child's medical care, religion, education and other important issues.

Some parents share physical custody, but the child does not spend equal time at each parent's home. This may be too difficult for manage for working parents and a child who is in school. However, a Wisconsin study found that the incidence of parents in the state who had shared equal physical custody rose from 5 percent in 1980 to 27 percent in 2018.

Know the facts regarding loan assumption

Alabama residents may be interested in assuming the loan on the mortgage they share with their spouse after the divorce process. This means that one of the borrowers is removed from the loan. The one who assumes the loan will not need to refinance. Before a person decides to do this, it is good to know all of the facts.

There are many benefits that come from assuming a home loan. One benefit is maintaining favorable rates. If the interest rates on the original loan are quite low, a person could save a lot of money by not needing to refinance. Most individuals pay less than $1,000 in fees in order to assume a loan. When this number is looked at in comparison to how much a person would have to spend to refinance and be stuck with high rates, this may be the more frugal option.

Practical preparations for the divorce process

People in Alabama who decide to divorce may be motivated to move on for deeply personal and emotional reasons. However, separation can also be challenging due to the practical issues involved. Divorce can involve an extensive amount of paperwork and research, so being prepared in advance can help one emerge from a difficult situation with reduced pressure. Therefore, spouses who are considering a divorce may want to begin with an inventory of their personal documents.

One of the most important parts of the divorce process is the distribution of assets between a couple. Therefore, it's crucial to collect bank statements, investment account records, retirement information, real estate deeds, mortgages, credit card bills and insurance policies. This can help establish a clear record of marital property to be divided as part of the asset division process. An ex may also want to locate their estate planning documents and any prepaid funeral arrangements that will need to be altered following the divorce.

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