Child support is the financial obligation that both parents have toward their child, whether the child is biological or adopted. When parents divorce, the court will order an amount to be paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. In the case of joint or split custody, the judge will assign who pays what. Often the parents will come to a written agreement on their own, which the court will accept and make part of the divorce decree. The court has guidelines that the amount of child support is based on.
The financial amount of child support is based on the everyday living expenses of the children, not the custodial parent. The money is to cover food, housing, clothes, schooling and medical insurance for the child. There may also be special needs that are factored in. The court takes in account the income of both the non-custodial parent and custodial parent when awarding the amount of child support. Both parents are responsible for supporting their children. If either parent later decides the payments are unfair or their financial circumstances have changed, they can petition the court to review the child support judgement.
Child support will continue until the child reaches the age of legal majority which is 18 in most states or until the age mandated in the divorce agreement. Often child support will be paid as long as the child is going to college or pursuing an education. Child support is not considered income for tax purposes. You do not have to report child support that you receive on your federal tax return. If you are paying child support, the payments are not tax deductible. All states have laws and agencies to make sure child support payments are being made and to offer aid to parents, so be sure to check your state's information.