What you need to know about Louisiana child support laws
Minor children deserve financial and emotional support from both parents, even when both parents no longer live together. In the cases where a non-custodial parent exists — a parent who spends less than half their time with the minor child — the child is required to receive paid support from the non-custodial parent.
Every state has a set of child support laws which basically run the same, but in Louisiana there some differences to note. If you’re a resident of New Orleans or Metairie and believe you’re owed child support, a Louisiana family law attorney can help you understand your rights as a custodial parent and fight for the financial support your child needs.
How is Louisiana Child Support Calculated?
The amount of a child support payment depends on the number of children between two people, the income of both parents and the specific custody arrangement. The common minimum child support payment in Louisiana is $100, but this is totally dependent on the combined adjusted gross income of the parents.
Your adjusted gross income is your gross income (after taxes) minus spousal support and pre-existing child support already paid. Your gross income can include any of the following:
- Social Security
- Workers Compensation
- Unemployment Benefits
Louisiana is special in the case of calculating gross income because people have been forced to take lower paying jobs or even unemployment due to Hurricane Katrina and Rita. Any physical or mental incapacities can affect how much someone earns, along with caring for a child under five years old.
However, if you don’t fall into that category a judge can assign a non-custodial parent an impute income — meaning there’s a set amount of money the non-custodial parent should be making based on earning potential. A family court judge has a lot of say over what someone’s child support can be based on income.
Does child custody affect my Louisiana child support payments?
Yes. Custody plays a big part in calculating child support in Louisiana. There are three types of custody in Louisiana and each one has their own set of criteria for determining child support payments:
- Sole custody: Child spends the majority of his or her time with one parent. The non-custodial parent should use this worksheet when calculating their estimated payment.
- Shared custody: Parents divide multiple children between them. Use this worksheet to calculate the estimated payments.
- Joint custody: Child spends approximately equal time with both parents. In this case, both parents fill out this worksheet and whoever owes the greater amount will pay the other parent the difference.
Keep in mind these worksheets are for you just to figure out estimates. A family court judge will have final say over what the payments will be.
How often can Louisiana Child Support be modified?
A non-custodial parent can ask the court to change their arrangement at any time. A Louisiana court will help justify a change if any of the following circumstances occur:
- Loss of employment
- Suffer from permanent disability
- A new child is born
- A current child suffered illness and medical care changes the amount owed
A 25 percent increase or decrease can occur if it’s proven a change in child support is justified. A New Orleans family law attorney can help you fight for changes in court if one of these circumstances have arisen.
How does Louisiana enforce child support?
In the case of a custodial parent, the state of Louisiana more often than not has your best interest in mind when it comes to enforcing child support. They range in severity, but some of the most common ones are:
- Income assignment – When a non-custodial parent falls behind on payments, the court can send an order to the non-custodial parent’s employer to deduct child support directly from their wages until payments are caught up.
- Revocations or suspensions – State law says if a non-custodial parent falls behind on their payments, they can have any variety of licenses revoked. This includes a driver’s license or even a vocational license some people need to work (license to operate a taxi, for example).
- Vehicle registration suspension – Special to the state of Louisiana, a non-custodial parent can have their vehicle registration revoked if they fall behind on child support payments.
- Contempt of court – When payments have fallen behind and the custodial parent doesn’t want to go through state services, they can file a petition to hold the non-custodial parent in contempt of court. Penalties for not appearing in court or not giving a reasonable explanation for late payments can be up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
- Most wanted list – The state of Louisiana sponsors a “most wanted list” of non-custodial parents who are at least $10000 in arrears (owed payments) or haven’t made a payment in more than six months. New Orleans and Metairie residents are encouraged to report the whereabouts of anyone they recognize on this list.
Don’t go it alone in your fight for Child Support in Louisiana
While it seems like the guidelines for Louisiana Child Support are generally clear-cut, at the end of the day a court will have the final say in what payments are and how they’re divided up. New Orleans and Metairie residents should never go into a family courtroom alone or with the council, they can’t trust.
Candice Bennatt is a New Orleans family law attorney who’s ready to hear your Louisiana child support issues and is ready to take on the task of getting the money you deserve. Call 504-777-3500 for a free consultation today.