Legally, parents are required to financially support their children until they are adults, which in Louisiana is considered to be when the child turns 18 years old. If a parent fails to make his or her payments according to schedule, they face serious penalties under the law. Every state possesses its own child support system with enforcement offices that oversee these payments. If payments are not being made, the office will work in conjunction with the family court to penalize the parent responsible for not paying. These penalties may include the suspension of a business or professional license, the revocation of driver’s or other recreational licenses, or even jail time for the non-paying parent. 

How Does Child Support Work in Louisiana?

Child support orders are typically entered during or after the parents of the child receive a divorce. In the event that the parents were never married, the child support order is based upon how the custody is arranged and the parents’ income. Regardless, both parties are responsible for financially supporting the child. 

When physical custody is split, child support allows a balance of the expenses in proportion to each parents’ time spent with the child. It is typically the parent with whom the child resides most, also known as the domiciliary or custodial parent, who receives the child support payment.

How is Child Support Determined?

The amount of child support awarded to the domiciliary parent depends on multiple factors. Largely, it is based on the need of the child (or children) and the ability of either parent to contribute financially. Things that must be taken into account include the number of children the two parents share, the combined monthly adjusted gross income between the two, and the type of custody agreement that is in place.

The state of Louisiana uses what is called the “income shares model” to determine child support obligations. This model is based on the amount of financial support that the child would receive if the parents were still together and living in the same household. The amount that is calculated from this will be divided proportionally in relation to each parents’ income.

What Does Child Support Cover?

Child support is meant to cover everyday living expenses for a child. Broadly speaking, everyday living expenses may refer to things such as food, clothing, and housing. In addition to living expenses, it may also include coverage for expenses such as health care or insurance, schooling, and extracurricular activities. 

Here are some more specific examples of expenses that are generally intended to be covered by child support:

  • Groceries
  • Daycare costs
  • School supplies
  • School lunches
  • School uniforms or sports uniforms
  • Dental work
  • Pediatric/GP care
  • Physical therapy

Many of the abovementioned expenses are set in fixed monthly amounts, while things such as medical emergencies or orthodontic work may come up unexpectedly and for only certain amounts of time. In these cases, the parents will need to divide up the cost accordingly in proportion to their individual incomes. 

How Long Does Child Support Last?

According to Louisiana law, both parents are generally required to support their children until they reach the age of 18. However, there is an exception. The length of child support payments may be slightly extended if the child is a full-time student in secondary school or equivalent, has not reached the age of 19, and is dependent on either parent.

How to File for Child Support in Shreveport / Bossier

Louisiana residents seeking child support generally must file through the court in the parish in which they live. To ensure things go as smoothly as possible, it is extremely helpful to include a private attorney in the process. A Louisiana attorney specializing in child custody and child support will be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding your case. They can also help you better understand how your income will be calculated and divided as well as determine an appropriate payment amount that gives your child the support they need, among many other things. 

Contact an Experienced Child Support Lawyer Today

A Bossier City family law attorney can assist child support cases in a number of ways. Whether you need help determining a fair child support arrangement, want to lower your child support amount, or seek to collect overdue payments, Michael J. Vergis can help. Attorney at Law Michael J. Vergis provides families with unmatched legal services in a competent, efficient, and caring manner. With every move he makes in your case, you’ll feel comfortable knowing he has both you and your child’s best interests at heart. For a dedicated Shreveport-Bossier child support attorney, contact our office by calling 318-698-3724 today or complete the contact form on the home page to request your consultation.