What You Need To Know About Child Support in Alabama

Alabama requires non-custodial parents to pay child support to cover a child’s financial needs. Here’s all you need to know about Alabama’s child support laws.

Alabama courts consider factors such as each parent’s income, the child’s financial needs and standard of living before the separation, custodial arrangements, and each parent’s child support obligations from previous marriages when calculating child support. Judges determine child support by multiplying each parent’s responsibility percentage by the appropriate number in Alabama’s Child Support Obligation Chart. Judges may modify or terminate a child support order with a change in circumstances like a parent’s loss of employment or custody changes.

Defining Child Support in Alabama

Alabama law defines child support as the payments a custodial parent receives from a non-custodial parent to pay for child-related expenses. Child support covers expenses like housing, food, clothing, toiletries, health care, child care, dental costs, extracurricular activities, and entertainment. Alabama does not require the custodial parent to provide proof of how they spent the child support money.

Related: How to Modify Child Support in Alabama

During a divorce, the presiding judge will order one of the parents to pay child support. The court may allow the parents to negotiate a written agreement with a different amount if they provide valid reasons for the deviation.

Alabama courts may consider the following factors when determining child support:

  • Each parent’s income and earning capacity
  • Custodial arrangements
  • The child’s standard of living before the separation
  • The child’s financial needs
  • The child’s age and marital status
  • Each parent’s child support or alimony obligations from a previous marriage
  • Any other factor a judge deems relevant

Calculating Child Support in Alabama

Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration specifies guidelines for calculating child support. The guidelines follow an “income shares model” to ensure the parents provide for the child the same way they would without the separation.

To calculate the responsibility percentage of each parent, Alabama judges divide the gross monthly income of both parents by the total gross income. The judge will determine the child support obligation based on Alabama’s Child Support Obligation Chart and multiply it by each parent’s responsibility percentage. If the non-custodial parent pays insurance, the judge will subtract the insurance payment from the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation.

Related: My Child’s Father Wants Custody to Avoid Child Support

FAQs About Child Support Laws in Alabama

Can a judge modify child support in Alabama?

Either parent can petition the judge to modify a child support order if there is a material change in circumstances.

Examples of valid reasons for a child support modification include:

  • A parent lost their job
  • A parent had an increase in their income
  • The non-custodial parent is spending more time with the child
  • The passage of time increased living expenses
  • Changes in the state’s child support laws

Can a judge terminate child support in Alabama?

Once a child turns 19, the non-custodial parent may file an Affidavit for Termination of Withholding Order for Support to terminate the child support obligation if they do not have overdue child support payments.

Other reasons for child support termination include:

  • The child’s death
  • The paying parent obtains physical custody
  • The paying parent requests the child’s emancipation
  • The paying parent loses their parental rights

What should I do if my ex-spouse refuses to pay child support?

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program of the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) secures compliance with child support orders on behalf of parents. Parents may hire a private attorney for a quicker resolution to the child support violation.

Penalties for violating a child support order include:

  • Wage deductions
  • Liens on the paying parent’s property
  • Credit bureau delinquency reports
  • Passport restrictions
  • Intercepted state or federal tax refunds
  • Revoked personal and professional licenses

How can the non-custodial parent pay child support in Alabama?

The paying parent traditionally pays child support through income withholding. If income withholding is not an option, the non-custodial parent can send the payments to the Alabama Child Support Payment Center in Montgomery. Alabama now allows parents to pay child support through ExpertPay or MoneyGram.

When may a court deviate from the child support guidelines?

The court may deviate from child support guidelines for a justifiable reason.

Examples of acceptable reasons for deviating from the guidelines include:

  • The child is paying for college before turning 19
  • The child has assets or unearned income
  • The paying parent spends significant amounts of time with the child
  • A parent is paying extraordinarily high transportation costs
  • A parent is paying educational expenses needed to raise their income or obtain a job

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Alabama Child Support Laws, get your free consultation with one of our Divorce Attorneys in Alabama today!