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Support Order

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What IS a Support Order?

A Support Order is a court order requiring one party to pay monetary support to the other party. This is usually connected with a divorce or separation case, and may involve either child support or spousal support (alimony). In most cases, the support order is issued as part of the final judgment ruling in a formal divorce case.  However, the parties can usually file for a support order even outside of a divorce or separation proceeding. 

What Is Contained In a Support Order?

A typical support order will contain the following basic information:

  • Names and contact information of all the parties involved (paying party, recipient party, children involved)
  • Amount of support to be paid
  • When support should be paid (this is usually monthly or twice a month
  • What types of measures will occur if enforcement is needed
  • How to modify or adjust the support order

The support order may also contain other information that may be needed in the situation. It is important to reference the support often in order to stay familiar with the terms of the order.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Formal Support Order?

There are generally more advantages than disadvantages to getting a formal support order. A court issued support document is generally enforceable under law; that is, both parties are required to abide by the terms of the support order. This makes it much more clear what the legal consequences are in case of a violation. This is unlike an informal, out-of-court support agreement, which may be difficult to prove (especially if it only an oral agreement and not formalized into written terms). 

In addition, a formal support order provides records of the financial history of both of the parties involved. For instance, when calculating adjustments in the future, the court can refer to a previous support order to determine the amount of previous support payments.

On the other hand, one disadvantage of a support order is that the parties may need to undergo some amount of negotiation with one another in order to set the terms properly. This might be a difficult option if the parties can no longer communicate well with one another, or if there is a history of abuse. In such cases, the parties will need lawyers in order to help with communications regarding the support order.

How Can I Get a Support Order? What if the Order Is Breached or Violated?

You can obtain a support order by filing a request with the court. This may require you to submit additional information and documents for proof of your income and monetary needs. Alternatively, a support order is automatically considered when the parties file for divorce or separation.

If a support order is violated or breached, you can usually file another complaint with the court. The court may then prescribe a remedy so you can obtain the support amounts you are entitled to under the order. Remedies may include taking measures such as garnishing wages from the other party’s paycheck. Alternatively, a modification of the order may help the other party to keep up with support payments.

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

Support orders are very important for the proper functioning of various parties in a divorce case, especially if there are children involved. You may wish to contact a qualified family law attorney in your area if you need any type of legal assistance. Your attorney can provide you with legal representation during the proceedings, and can help you file the necessary paperwork to obtain a support order. 

Photo of page author Adam Vukovic

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 02-18-2015 01:35 PM PST

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