When a couple files for divorce, custodial arrangements must be made for any children the two spouses share together. Once a custodial parent is appointed, the court will likely order the noncustodial parent to pay a monthly sum known as child support to the custodial parent. The amount of child support ordered for payment is calculated based on the income of the parents and the number of children involved.
Child support is paid to the custodial parent to help pay for the daily living expenses for the children. This could include food, shelter, utilities, school supplies, medical bills and more. It is not, however, intended to pay for the expenses of the custodial parent.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of April 2008, the average monthly child support was $280. The total of all child support owed nationally per year is more than $34 billion.
According the Census Bureau, less than 63 percent of all child support payments are ever paid. The consequences of not paying child support are serious. The courts can impose fines of up to $500 and place the offender in jail for up to six months.