Child Support Payments

Should I Agree to Pay Above the Child Support Guidelines?

It’s no secret that children are expensive, and when a West Virginia couple divorces, the higher-earning party often has to chip in more to ensure that their children’s needs are met. But what if the child support guidelines laid out by the state still don’t meet the child’s needs? If you’re considering paying above and beyond the child support guidelines, it’s important to know how it may affect you down the line.

As you figure out a fair and reasonable child support agreement, make sure you have a strong legal team representing you. Call Pence Law Firm at 304-407-7852 to set up a consultation with our team right away.

Child Support Guidelines in West Virginia

West Virginia uses the Income Shares Support Formula, which calculates both parents’ income and assumes that both parties would be contributing to the child’s upbringing were they to stay married. The calculator also accounts for how much time the children spend with each parent, how many children there are, and any unique expenses involved in caring for the children. Even if child custody is split 50/50, it’s likely that a parent who earns significantly more will pay child support to the lower-earning parent.

There are many higher-earning parents who decide to pay more than what the state requires. Learn more about what this means for you.

Factors That May Influence Your Decision

There are a number of factors that may sway your decision. Perhaps you have the financial capacity to pay above the child support guidelines, and you want to ensure that your child has the quality of life you feel they deserve. Your child may also have unusually expensive extracurricular activities, private school tuition, or medical expenses that push you to give more. If you know that the other parent struggles financially, you may want to support them by providing more financially. Some people also use additional child support as leverage; if you want additional time with your children, you may compromise by providing additional support.

The Benefits and Risks of Overpaying

There are several benefits of paying over what the child support calculator states, including:

  • Showing your commitment to your child and their best interests
  • Limiting conflict with your co-parent and providing for your child in a meaningful way
  • Giving yourself some wiggle room—should your financial circumstances change in the future, you may be able to decrease child support but still be within what the law recommends
  • Allowing your child to participate in more activities and enjoy life to the fullest

However, there are potential risks to consider:

  • If your financial circumstances change and your child support is legally ordered, you may have to go through the expense of hiring a lawyer and going to court to get the order changed
  • Resentment may build if you limit your own quality of life in order to provide extra, particularly if your co-parent isn’t appreciative
  • Potential of having your extra child support used to enrich your co-parent’s life rather than your child’s life

Protecting Yourself Legally

Before you agree to anything, it’s important to discuss your options with a Charleston child support lawyer. If your child support order includes extra child support, that is legally binding—you cannot simply decide to stop paying the “extra” because it is above the child support guidelines. At that point, it is part of a court order, and failing to pay could put you in contempt. 

This is something to think about before agreeing to any set number. If you want to pay extra without the risk of a sudden change in financial circumstances, consider having your child support order reflect the state-mandated amount and paying the rest informally. However, you should discuss these and other options with your lawyer to make the best choice for you and your children.

Explore Your Legal Options with Pence Law Firm

Ready to find the best child support solution for your financial needs? The team at Pence Law Firm is here to help you. Our experience in family law gives us the knowledge and skills needed to handle even the most complex child support cases. Get started now by calling us at 304-407-7852 or filling out our online contact form.