Calculating and Enforcing Child Support in Louisiana Divorce Cases
Louisiana uses the income shares model to calculate child support and has strict regulations for child support enforcement as well.
Filing for divorce can be a difficult decision for many Louisiana couples, especially when there are children involved. Children of divorce may go through significant financial and emotional changes as their parents separate. In order to minimize the financial loss that a child may experience when moving to a single-parent household, non-custodial parents in Louisiana are required to pay child support. Not only does child support help to provide basic necessities for the child, but it can also help with education, insurance and medical expenses as well.
Income Shares Model
Louisiana follows the income shares model of calculating child support. Under this model, it is believed that children should be given the same amount of financial support that they would have received if their parents had remained married, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In order to calculate the amount of child support to be paid under this model, both parents must disclose all sources of income, including wages, pensions, bonuses, interest, gifts, workers’ compensation benefits, social security benefits, unemployment, insurance benefits and disability benefits, according to Louisiana State Legislature. The combined monthly adjusted gross income is then determined by subtracting each parent’s expenses from their total income.
The Department of Children and Family Services states that the final amount of child support ordered by the court is determined after careful consideration of the following:
- Any extraordinary medical expenses or needs that must be met
- The cost of child care, if applicable
- Health insurance coverage
- The adjusted gross income of each parent
If the non-custodial parent is already ordered by the court to pay child support or alimony in another case, those amounts may be subtracted from the parent’s gross income as well.
Child Support Enforcement
A significant number of parents who are obligated to pay child support fall behind on making their court-ordered payments. While some cases involve parents who have lost their jobs or have had a substantial change in their financial status and require child support modification, other parents simply fail to provide the funds to their children. Delinquent child support funds totaled more than $1.33 billion in Louisiana alone at the end of 2012, according to the DCFS.
In an attempt to lower the amount of backlogged child support, Louisiana DCFS began intercepting tax refunds and casino winnings of delinquent parents, in addition to collecting wage garnishments. The Advocate reported that approximately $43.7 million was recovered from federal and state income taxes in 2012, $850,000 from casino winnings since September 2011 and more than $280 million a year from wage garnishments.
Obtaining Legal Assistance
Whether you are a custodial or non-custodial parent who is going through the divorce process, it is vital that you partner with an established attorney. Louisiana divorce laws can be complicated and a knowledgeable lawyer can bring personalized representation to your case.