Which Alabama Child Support Guidelines Apply To My Case?

Whenever a state adopts new child support guidelines, the judges in that state gird their loins for an onslaught of divorced parents seeking to modify their cases. Judges know that changes in child support guidelines are significant enough to garner news media attention, which means a flurry of people calling their lawyers to find out if they can get more money (or if they’ll have to pay more money, as the case may be). This will happen in Alabama too, because as you can see in yesterday’s note, the new Alabama child support guidelines are more generous to custodial parents at the median income level for all family sizes, and more generous to custodial parents of one child at all income levels.

To make this expected onslaught slightly less challenging, the Advisory Committee and the Alabama Supreme Court used a familiar strategy: they specified that a person seeking to modify child support “must plead and prove that there has occurred a material change in circumstances that is substantial and continuing since the last order of child support.” You can argue with the grammar (Miss Nichols, my high school English teacher, would have made me say “must plead and prove that a substantial, continuing, and material change in circumstances has occurred since the last order of child support”), but the goal is clear, to preclude the filing of petitions to modify based solely on the promulgation of the new child support guidelines.

It’s clear then that a person should refrain from filing to modify child support unless he or she can show that a material change in circumstances has occurred. That is, that there’s been a change in income of one of the parents, that health insurance cost or child care cost has changed, or that one of the children has reached the age of majority. Once the court is satisfied that a material change in circumstances has occurred, the court will apply the old guidelines to any case filed in 2008 or before and apply the new guidelines to any case (including a modification) filed in 2009 or later.

8 comments

  1. Audrey Marsh says:

    Divorce and child support for final in 2007 based on 2 children. One child reached the age of majority so I filed a modification to take her off. What should my child support be based on the pre-2009 or the new guidelines?
    Thank you

  2. Lee Borden says:

    Can’t tell you what it SHOULD be, but I can tell you the judges I know are basing child support on the new guidelines. Bet yours will too.

  3. Mesha says:

    I have remarried. My exhusband wants to claim our son on his income taxes. My son lives with me and I have claim him for 9 years on my income taxes. We both have lawyers. My lawyer told me today that his lawyer told the judge during the pretrial that since my new husband makes alot of money and that we could claim our daughter on income taxes for judge to allow him to claim our son. My exhusband does not know how much money my husband makes. My lawyer said the judge said she will probably let me claim our son during the even years and let my exhusband claim our son during the odd years. My lawyer said this is not final because we are just negotaiting. I think this is totally unfair for the judge to say something like this. My son lives with me 95% so I don’t understand why she would say this. I live in Alabama. Is there something supporting her statement?

  4. Lee Borden says:

    If the judge actually said that, the judge was deciding to ignore the statement in Rule 32 – http://www.divorceinfo.com/alrule32.htm – that the guidelines assume that the custodial parent will be keeping and using the exemption for the children. That’s not what I would do if were your judge, but I’m not your judge.

    Your lawyer knows the law, the facts of your case, and the proclivities of your judge. I’m at one out of three, so I would trust your lawyer’s advice.

  5. Shannon Hebert says:

    Hi, I am recently going through a rough Divorce. My husband works overseas and makes $206,000 a year. The Judge gave me $1363.00 in Child support and $1,000 a month in Alimony. At first my husband had agreed to pay $1,484. child support but the Judge bumped me down to $1,363. a month. This is so unfair. I do not work, and we have lived together for 13 years, and married for 9. No one this day in time that has a 13 year old child, and me as a mother that hasn’t worked in 14 years can live and support a child and etc on this kind of income. How can this Judge do this,and what can be done about it. I had a lawyer but I think that she has been bought off too. She will not continue with my case till I pay her more money and my Divorce is not final yet. I have no money to pay for nothing because my husband now refuse to pay me child support. So I have to represent my self in court. I live in the state of Alabama. What is your advice to me? My daughter and I really has gotten the raw in of the deal. My husband will not even see are speak to her anymore. She was adopted by him when she was very young. Thank you for your time.

  6. Lee Borden says:

    Sounds like the judge awarded you child support in accordance with the guidelines. If you want more, you’ll probably have to take it up with the legislature. I wouldn’t spend any more money on lawyers, because my guess is that it would accomplish nothing other than to use up the money you have to live on.

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