By Daniel Exner
Cordell & Cordell
Many divorcing dads wonder if they should be paying child support during this separation period. Should you pay if there is no court order? Is it considered abandonment if you do not pay?
There is a legal and a practical answer to those questions.
Legally, you are not required to make child support payments to your spouse unless the court orders the payments. Parties are always free to make arrangements and offer agreements on child support, but the court retains the final word for the best interests of the children.
Parents are obligated to support their children, though. After the divorce paperwork is filed, and if you two cannot agree on support payments, the court may order you to pay temporary or permanent support. This order will generally be based on the child custody schedule, the number of children, and the comparable income of the parties.
How Much Should You Be Paying?Child Support Calculators
Practically, a voluntary payment of support may affect the progression of your case. For instance, if you pay $100 per week and those payments satisfactorily cover the children's expenses, you may be able to avoid temporary orders on the subject. Additionally, the opposing party may be more willing to negotiate on other issues.
If you make significantly more than the opposing party and she exercises more visitation with the children, you may end up paying much more than $100 per week if this goes to court.
A divorce lawyer would need more information on your surrounding circumstances before giving direction on how to proceed. I recommend discussing your matter with a family law attorney before taking any major action in your case.