Misconceptions about child support

Some Orange County parents have misconceptions about child support, both paying and receiving it. But whether you're the one writing or cashing the checks, it's beneficial to fully understand your rights under the law.

Below are some common myths surrounding child support payments.

1. I can deduct my child support from my taxes

You might think that it's only fair for you to be allowed to deduct the child support on your federal income taxes. But that's not the way the system is set up. Neither is the recipient parent required to list the amounts as income.

A further misconception is that child support determines who claims the dependent exemption deduction. Typically, that is granted to custodial parents but may be managed differently in some circumstances.

2. Under joint custody, neither parent pays child support.

This might be true in some situations but is not a given. Child support is intended to shift the financial burden of child-rearing onto both parents equally.

3. Child support ends when the minor child reaches age 18.

In California, child support continues until age 19 as long as the child is not self-supporting or married and remains enrolled in high school.

4. If my child's other parent stops working intentionally, the payments will be reduced accordingly.

Parents who quit working for the purposes of reducing their child support will not be rewarded by the court for doing so. Their obligations will continue to accrue at the stated rate.

5. My ex must account for how the child support is spent.

The courts do not require documentation for how the support money is spent. In situations where the paying parent believes the money is being diverted and the kids' needs are unmet, this may be addressed by the court.

6. Back child support can't be collected after the child turns 18.

Many parents can collect back child support owed to them after the children are adults.

Separating the truth from the myths about child support in California can empower both paying and recipient parents.

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