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Louisiana child support ABCs

Experts in family law sometimes find themselves hammering home the message repeatedly. Although one or both spouses feel the system isn’t treating them fairly, the stubborn fact is family law courts try to focus on the child’s best interests. Everything else is supposed to come second.

When it comes to child support, Louisiana sees both parents as responsible for the child’s chances for a great future. It helps to keep that principle in mind while reviewing the basics of Louisiana’s approach to a child’s material wellness after parents separate.

Calculating each parent’s share of the support

Louisiana bases decisions about child support on each parent’s ability to chip in. The parents split up, but a goal is keeping the child from paying the price. The state begins by estimating the total value of the support the child would be getting if the parents were still together.

The court then splits that total between the two parents, not equally but based on each parent’s income and other resources. The calculation uses a specially designed worksheet. The parent, man or woman, with the higher income pays the higher proportion of the support.

When the law needs help doing right by the child

When you make important decisions using a huge table of numbers, you make mistakes. Louisiana understands that. That’s why parents might be able to ask the court to adjust the mix of payments coming from the two parents. Courts typically respond to clear and convincing arguments based on the law and the facts.

When the non-custodial parent (the one who mostly doesn’t live with the child) increases their responsibility and time spent with child, the court might see a reason to adjust the payments

Maybe one or the other parent has an up-or-down change in their finances, or is spending their money recklessly, or is breaking the law in perhaps dangerous ways, or is hiding their income from the other parent and the court. Maybe one parent has simply stopped paying.

The court has ways of making you pay

In such cases, Louisiana has tools it can use to try to change the misbehaving parent’s ways, such as suspending a driver’s license or passport. Remember that disobeying a court is a crime and the court can charge disobedient people with “contempt of court.”

You should also be aware that courts have ways of reaching into people’s pockets (you might say) and taking money, such as cashing state and federal tax refunds or collecting lottery winnings, before the checks even reach the person’s mailbox.

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