The difficulty of setting child support payments

A person's income is a central factor in determining amounts for child support and alimony. A family law judge will strive to set these payment amounts at a fair level relative to that income. This presents a problem for a couple reasons.

Many professionals deal with cash on an everyday basis. This means that their income amount listed on their tax return sheet may not be fully accurate. In fact, it might be far from accurate. This scenario fits a laundry list of professions, from landscapers, beauticians and bartenders, to maids or personal trainers.

Aside from this, many men and women have opted to do work on the side to supplement their income. This can make a person's actual income tough to decipher. According to one family law expert, this notion rings true far more than it doesn't.

Enlisting the help of a forensic accountant or conducting a lifestyle analysis could be a couple effective ways of smoking out this behavior. There are relatively clear signs that point to the fact an individual's income may not be what it seems. For instance, if that person's lifestyle is not equivalent to their listed income, they likely earn more money. Or, if someone with an average income drops a lot of cash on a single purchase (such as a home) something might also be amiss.

Judges also pay attention to whether or not a person lost their job. While this might be appropriate for those that unwillingly lose their job, there are some that opt to ditch high-paying jobs to take one that pays less. Should that person benefit from that decision?

Suddenly, calculating child support and alimony is not such an exact science. This increases the importance of family lawyers and judges. Establishing appropriate child support payments ensures that a child has access to the money needed to maintain a beneficial lifestyle.

Source: Huffington Post, "How Do You Determine Child Support and Alimony?" Henry Gornbein, Feb. 21, 2013

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