When couples separate, they can sometimes have disputes about custody and child support. This is in part because figuring out what your children need and deserve can be complicated. There are many different factors and issues that go into determining the ideal child support arrangement for the child or children.
Fortunately, the Child & Home Support Division of the Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS) is available to help you understand what your rights are and help you resolve your child support issues. Some common child support issues can include:
- Disputes over payment amounts;
- Failure to provide payment on time;
- Failure to provide the right payment amounts;
- Difficulties in collecting missed or back payments (called “arrears”);
- Issues when one parent moves, gets a different job, or other major life changes; and/or
- Various other disputes and issues.
- Wyoming Family Law: Who Needs to Pay Child Support?
- Wyoming Family Law: How Do You Petition for Child Support?
- Wyoming Family Law: What If I Do Not Want to Pay Child Support?
- Wyoming Family Law: What Recourse Can the Other Parent Have If I Do Not Pay Support?
- Wyoming Family Law: How Can I End Child Support?
- Where Can I Find the Right Wyoming Family Lawyer?
The parent who does not have physical custody is obligated to pay child support. This parent is called the “non-custodial parent”. The other parent, called the “custodial parent”, will be the one collecting the child support payments, since they typically have a broader range of responsibilities and expenses in connection with the child.
Even if the parents share joint custody, that does not mean that child support is not owed. The court will take into account the fact that you are helping to raise the child and you might owe less, but you must still pay child support to cover the rest of your share of child-rearing costs.
In Wyoming, you can request child support through the court system or the Child Support Program, which is administered by the Child & Home Support Division. Before you sit down to fill out a child support application, you should gather important information, such as the other parent’s name, address, social security number, employer information, and information about their parents.
Child support calculations are made based on various factors, including:
- Each parent’s income level;
- The child’s needs, such as school needs or medical needs;
- The geographic location of each parent and the costs of living in those areas; and
- Previous history of payments between the parties.
If you do not know the other parent’s current location or any other relevant information, then be prepared for the process to take some time. Try to collect as much information as you can, if you cannot confirm or track down the other parent yourself. Information like distinguishing features, like tattoos or scars, can even help the process.
Not paying child support can have serious consequences. First, child support payments will be taken from your income without your consent. That can include taking the money from your bank account, tax refund, lottery winnings, lawsuit settlements, or by selling off your property. You can also be denied a passport or lose your driver’s license. Credit scores can be lowered as well because the failure to pay will be reported to credit agencies.
In some cases, the parent’s employer may be authorized to transfer money directly from the person’s paycheck and divert it directly towards support payments, a process known as “wage garnishment”. In some instances, the person may be found in contempt of court, and may face criminal penalties such as jail time and additional criminal fines.
The only thing a custodial parent can do to get child support payment is to ask the state to help enforce the child support order. They cannot stop the non-custodial parent’s visitation. If a parent is not paying child support, the nonpayment does not give the other parent the right to stop visitation.
The custodial parent must follow any visitation schedule ordered by the court. If you are behind on child support do not be scared to see your children because you still have that right. If the other parent will not follow visitation, then you can go to court and ask that the visitation order be enforced.
Remember, it is possible for the other parent to request a modification of child custody/visitation. While it is not necessarily due to lack of child support, but it can be argued that not paying child support (especially refusing to pay child support) can be indicative that the child will not have stability when visiting or staying with the other parent.
There are legal ways to terminate child support. It is very important that you do this legally, or you can face legal and financial consequences. A few ways that you can end child support are taking full physical custody of the child, proving that you are not the biological father through a paternity test, and getting the court to approve an agreement between you and the other parent to stop child support.
Otherwise, child support automatically ends if:
- The child is emancipated;
- The child marries;
- The child joins the military; or
- The child turns 18.
However, if the child is 18 and is considered to have a disability (they cannot take care of themselves because of it) or is still attending high school, or a high school-like program, then child support must continue. If the child is attending high school, then child support must continue until they have completed the program.
Since child custody is one of those issues that can be a part of your life for many years, it is important to find the right lawyer. A Wyoming child support lawyer will be able to fight for your rights in both a support court hearing and any mediation sessions or negotiations with the other parent. If you have any specific questions or inquiries, your attorney can provide you with advice and guidance on those points as well.