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Parents must fit their budget around child support

The judge orders your ex to pay child support during the divorce proceedings. Your ex quickly brings out a budget, showing their income and expenses. This nets very close to zero at the end of the month, so your ex claims he or she can't make the payments.

Is this how it works? Is child support supposed to fit into an existing budget?

No. Instead, your ex is supposed to create a new budget that fits around child support. It does not work the other way around. Child support is a necessity and an obligation. The court determines what your ex can afford based on earnings and need. Your ex cannot get out of it just by claiming it doesn't fit the budget.

In order to make a new budget that really works after divorce, here are some important tips:

1. Determine what is really a necessity

One thing your ex needs to consider is what items in the budget are actually necessary. For instance, your ex may have a cable television subscription with extra sports and movie channels. Your ex may have an expensive monthly gym membership. Your ex's entertainment budget may include hundreds of dollars for going out with friends. These things are not necessities and there is room for cutbacks.

2. Remember that some expenses change from month to month

Things like gas, water and electricity fluctuate based on need. Some of it has to do with the seasons. For instance, the hottest months of the summer put extra strain on the HVAC system and drive up energy prices. Looking for fixed monthly payment plans can reduce those peak costs.

3. Consider debt reduction

Paying the minimum on a credit card costs a lot in interest every month. By doing that, your ex actually spends far more than necessary, racking up debt over time. One way to reduce the amount of expenses is to work hard at paying off debt faster, while not accumulating new debt. This can eventually eliminate some of those monthly obligations.

4. Stick to the budget

When your ex does create this new, revamped budget, the key is to stay on it every month. Child support should get paid off first. Your ex needs to track expenses and keep a close eye on monthly bills. This may not be something they enjoy doing, but, once again, your ex has an obligation to fit the budget around the child support payments. This requires work and dedication.

Your rights

These tips can help your ex set up a new budget and send you the proper monthly payments, but there is no guarantee that he or she will never fall behind or start missing payments. Make sure you know exactly what legal rights you have and what steps you can take.

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