What You Need To Know About Child Support Fraud
Published Nov 16, 2020
What is child support?
Child support is the money paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for the child’s benefit in the case of the parents’ divorce, separation, or where the parents do not live together. This money is to be used to support the child’s health and welfare, education, shelter, and other necessities.
How is child support calculated?
Each state in the United States is required by federal law to establish clear statutes and guidelines on how child support dues should be calculated. Most states in the US, including California, New York, and Michigan, apply a similar strategy in the income shares model. The three known methods in calculating child support are as follows: (Note that the court may deviate from these models in some cases)
Income shares model
The most widely used model in a large majority of states is the income shares model. To determine how much a non-custodial parent must pay in child support, this model uses both parents’ net income to determine that amount.
For example, the non-custodial parent earns a net income of $5,000 a month while the other earns $7,500. Their total monthly income adds up to $12,500, where the non-custodial parent makes up 40% of that, with 60% coming from the custodial parent. Now let’s say that the court determines that the total monthly child support obligation is $2,000 for one child. The non-custodial parent will have to contribute to 40% of that obligation, and in this situation, they’d have to pay $800.
Percentage of income model
The percentage of income model takes only the non-custodial parent’s income into account, along with the number of children he or she supports. A percentage, either flat or varying, will then be taken from their income to provide the necessary child support. In flat rate states, the percentage will not change if the non-custodial parent’s income fluctuates. Conversely, in varying rate states, the percentage will adjust according to that parent’s income.
For example, the non-custodial parent makes $3,000 in a month, and the flat rate is 20%. That parent will have to pay $600 in child support per month. And if that parent’s income suddenly dips to $2,000, they will still have to comply with the 20% flat rate, translating to a $400 contribution.
The Melson formula is the most different model of the three, as it uses a defined set of variables, including the needs of the child and the child’s standard of living adjustment (SOLA). This model allows for more of the parents’ income to go into child support as either or both parents increase their income. Calculating child support dues under the Melson formula is far less straightforward than either of the previous ones.
How does one commit child support fraud?
Now that we’ve laid out the basics of calculating child support dues let’s move on to what we call “child support fraud.” What is child support fraud? Child support fraud occurs when either parent provides incorrect or incomplete information about their income.
There are typically two situations in which parents may give false information regarding their income. It could be the non-custodial parent under-declaring their income to pay less in child support dues or the custodial parent under-declaring their income to receive higher child support from the non-custodial parent. One rare case of child support fraud is where the custodial parent, having received money from the non-custodial one, doesn’t use the money for the children, but these cases are much more complicated and challenging to prove.
What are the penalties for child support fraud?
When you submit financial affidavits or other documents for child support hearings, you are essentially doing them under oath. So, withholding any material information from the court or providing false information counts as perjury.
Perjury is a serious crime that comes with large fines and potentially jail time. The judge in child support fraud cases will likely ensure that the punishment is equivalent to the severity of the fraud allegations.
What typically happens if you’re caught committing child support fraud is that your dues will be re-adjusted according to your real income. Additionally, you will have to cover the amount of money unpaid from paying inaccurate dues.
Unfortunately, child support fraud is quite common among divorced families. If you suspect your co-parent of committing fraud or if you yourself have been accused of fraud, be sure to contact your attorney as soon as possible.
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About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.