Child support is a type of legal issue for which you usually need a lawyer. It can be very confusing trying to figure out how much is owed and what happens if you do not meet those requirements. Maine’s Office of Family Independence’s Division of Support Enforcement & Recovery (DSER) can inform you about your rights and assist you in clarifying some of the more complicated parts.
Child support cases can involve a wide range of disputes and issues. These can include:
- Disputes over payment amounts and schedules;
- Issues with collecting child support payments;
- Late or missing child support payments;
- Using child support payments for non-authorized uses; and/or
- Changes that might affect child support payments, such as the birth of another child, remarrying, relocating to another place, and a loss or gain of employment.
Who Needs to Pay Child Support in Maine?
Child support is paid to the custodial parent by the noncustodial parent. The custodial parent is the one that has custody of the child for the majority of the time; the noncustodial parent is the parent that spends less time with the child. Naturally, the custodial parent will have more responsibilities and child-rearing costs, and so courts require payment from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent.
Now, if both parents have equal or close to equal amounts of time with the child then the amount you pay will change based on that. These types of arrangements may be instituted at the beginning; in some cases, the custody arrangement will be modified due to major life changes or other similar changes.
How Can I Petition for Child Support in Maine?
The first thing you have to do in order to get child support in the state of Maine is to get the forms from your local court. Next, you have to fill out a child support affidavit. In that affidavit, you have to include your and the other parent's financial information. If you do not have the other person’s financial information, then you have to put down the best estimate you can. The last thing you have to do is fill out a child support worksheet yourself or have the court magistrate fill it out for you. If you are having difficulties at any step of the way, or with any of these items or documents, a legal professional can be of assistance to you.
What If I Don’t Pay Child Support in Maine?
If you do not pay child support, the state of Maine will first do a wage garnishment where DSER will directly take the child support money out of your paycheck. Other ways the state will enforce child support is by garnishing your bank account, taking your tax return, placing a lien on your property, and selling your personal property such as cars. The state can also take away your license and passport.
Can Nonpayment Stop My Visitation in Maine?
A noncustodial parent has rights to visitation that cannot be affected by nonpayment. If you have court-ordered visitation and the other parent is not allowing you to see your child, you can return to court to ask that the visitation order is enforced. Even if you have not paid or are behind on child support payments, you still have rights to visit your children.
How Can You Stop Paying Child Support in Maine?
You should never stop paying child support without discussing it with a lawyer first. Otherwise, you will most likely end up owing child support and can end up in trouble. The easiest way to stop paying child support is to reach an agreement with the other parent.
If this happens, the agreement does need to be formally approved by the court, so that proper records can be kept of the changes. That way, if there are any further violations or child support issues, the court will be informed of the current situation between the parents.
However, the most common way to stop paying child support is if the noncustodial parent shows they are not the biological parent. This typically happens when a couple is married and the husband is the presumed father, but the wife actually became pregnant by another man.
If you think you are not the father, you can ask for a paternity test. However, if you were never married, but you have acknowledged paternity, you have 60 days or the date of the child support hearing, whichever day comes first, to take back your acknowledgement.
Where Can You Find the Right Family Lawyer in Maine?
It is important to find the right lawyer when you are facing a child support battle. A Maine family law lawyer can help you figure out your rights and responsibilities regarding child support. Your attorney can provide you with guidance and can advise you on your rights in connection with the child support arrangement. All determinations are made with the child’s best interests in mind.