How to Get Child Support

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What Is Child Support?

Child support is a type of support payment when two parents are no longer living together. It is in the best interest of any child to have financial support from both parents. Child support can be ordered even in instances where a parent does not have contact with his or her child, unless that parent has legally surrendered parental rights with the permission of both the court and the other parent.

Child support is paid from one parent to the other and is usually paid by the parent who is not raising the child and does not have full custody of the child.

How Can I Get Child Support?

Obtaining child support can sometimes begin through the creation of a child support agreement. This is an agreement, basically a contract, that outlines the terms of child support payment from one parent to the other. It may contain provisions regarding:

Child support agreements can be created independently, outside of court, through negotiations between the parties. They should be written down and should meet all the requirements for a valid contract. If desired, they can be submitted to a judge to be converted into a formal child support order. This will help the agreement to be enforceable in the future.

If paternity, maternity or parenthood issues are a factor, these generally need to be resolved before a request for child support can be addressed. Child support can also be obtained as part of divorce or separation proceedings.

What Are the Steps to Collect Child Support Payments?

The steps to take in order to collect child support are:

  1. Establish Fatherhood: If you are not married when your child was born, the first step is to determine the father of the child. This can be done through a paternity test or blood test.
  2. Establish Child Support Order: All states have official child support guidelines that are used to calculate how much each parent should contribute to financially support his or her child.
  3. Enforce Child Support Order: Once you are entitled to collect child support from the other parent, you may take several steps to enforce and collect the child support payments that are owed to you.

How Can I Enforce Child Support Payment Obligations?

If the parent obligated to pay child support payments refuses to make payments, the receiving parent can enlist in a child support agency to help them collect the payments. These child support agencies have many resources that can locate the non-custodial parent and collect the amount owed for child support.

The agencies also have the ability to freeze bank accounts, suspend driver’s licenses, suspend professional licenses, and garnish wages. To enforce the order or collect on owed child support, the person owed the money needs to take a copy of the support order to a local child support agency to begin the process.

What If I Need the Child Support Order Changed?

Child support orders can usually be modified if necessary. This can happen due to a change in circumstances, such as when one party moves or if the paying parent loses their job. A modification may need the assistance of a lawyer, as proof of the change in circumstances will usually be required.

A modification of a child support order can also be helpful if the paying parent is refusing to make the required payments. Sometimes all that is needed is to adjust the support order to accommodate the needs of the paying parent. Any modifications to a child support order must serve the child’s best interests. 

What Does “Retroactive” Child Support Mean?

Retroactive child support refers to payments that are due because they were missed in the past. This term can also refer to payments that were missed before a support order was actually issued. In some cases, a court may require the paying payment to pay retroactive child support in order to provide the child with the monetary funds that were supposed to be paid to them in the past.

This can sometimes be difficult to do, and may often require other measures such as a garnishment of the paying parent’s wages. When attempting to get child support, you should be sure to follow all the laws and court procedures for the process. Remember to treat the other party with courtesy and to conduct yourself ethically, as any violations or questionable acts can harm your child’s chances at receiving child support.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With Child Support Issues?

Child support matters are important for the upbringing of your child or children. If you need legal assistance with child support issues, you may wish to contact a family law attorney in your area. Your lawyer can help you negotiate and finalize a child support agreement, and can help you obtain a formal order from the court. Also, in the event of a lawsuit or legal claim, your attorney can provide you with legal representation during the court proceedings.

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Last Modified: 03-31-2016 02:48 PM PDT

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