A child support order is a type of formal court document issued by a state court or government agency that regulates how a parent will make monetary payments to the other parent to compensate for the costs of raising a child. Child support is important to ensure the proper upbringing of the child or children involved and to cover the child’s basic needs.

Child support payments usually only cover the child’s basic needs and not “luxury” or unnecessary expenses. Basic needs usually include:

  • Health and medical expenses
  • Educational expenses
  • Some travel expenses
  • Food and clothing
  • Any specific needs that a particular child may have

How Are Child Support Orders Obtained?

A child support order is generally issued in connection with the legal separation or divorce between the parents. As part of the final judgment, the judge may issue a child support order after reviewing evidence from the legal proceedings.

Alternatively, a child support order frequently begins as a child support agreement. This may be a contract formed between the parents, created on their own without any intervention from the court. For instance, they may have negotiated on terms and agreed in writing or orally on the terms of payment. Additionally, the agreement may consider the situation where one of the parents has already been making regular payments.

These terms can then be converted into a child support order. The parties would have to submit the agreement to the judge, who can then review the order and approve it if it meets the standards and requirements. After approval, the support order becomes fully enforceable under the law.

How Can a Child Support Order Be Violated?

Most people associate child support violations with the paying parent. However, a child support order can be violated by either parent.
For the paying parent, violations include:

  • Failing to make payments
  • Paying only a portion of the required payments
  • Using deceit or fraud to hide assets, in order to obtain a lesser payment amount

For the party collecting the payments, violations may include:

  • Claiming more payments than are actually needed or due
  • Using fraud or deceit to alter income statements
  • Using the payments for improper purposes

Violations of child support orders can lead to various legal consequences, including fines, a contempt order, and in some cases, losses of privileges such as visitation or custody rights.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Child Support Order?

Obtaining a child support order generally requires the assistance of an experienced child support attorney. Hiring a lawyer may be necessary when it comes to creating, filing, reviewing, or modifying a child support order. In addition, you may need to hire a qualified lawyer in the event that you need to sue for retroactive child support payments.