Child Support

In some situations, one parent of a child may be ordered to pay child support to the other. Child support is a monetary stipend, typically paid each month, to support the parent in paying for the child's expenses. Child support is typically handled by state level agencies. However, there are some commonalities between jurisdictions.

More About Child Support

When two parents of a child are separated, the parent who does not have custody of the child pays child support to the parent who does. One of the most important parts of setting up child support payments is establishing paternity. Without established paternity, there may be no obligation for a non-custodial father to pay child support.

Even if the non-custodial parent lives in another state, the custodial parent's child support bureau will usually help with the child support case. In these cases, the custodial parent's state will typically get jurisdiction of the case.

Determining Child Support

Once paternity's established, the child support enforcement office (sometimes with the assistance of a circuit court judge) will work with both parents to create a child support order.

The parents typically need to attend an interview with a child support caseworker, or may need to attend one or more court dates. In advance of these meetings, they will usually receive instructions about what to bring with them, which will usually include a photo ID and financial information such as pay stubs, proof of property ownership and so forth. If they refuse to provide this information, or are found to provide false information, they risk losing government financial benefits and may receive further sanction.

With that information, the judge or the caseworker(s) will determine the amount of child support due, typically monthly. The calculation varies between jurisdiction, but usually takes into account the non-custodial parent's income, as well as the number of children the individual has with that parent.

Paying Child Support

How child support payments are handled varies between jurisdictions, but in many places, child support is taken out of individuals' paychecks and paid to the custodial parent within 14 business days. If you are the custodial parent and have not received your child support payment within that time, contact the state child support agency.

As with many government programs, the non-custodial parent is expected to report changes in income to the child support agency. If the non-custodial parent's income changes, you may be paying too much or too little child support. If you suspect the non-custodial parent (you or the other parent) is paying an incorrect child support amount, contact the child support agency and they will investigate the matter. If you are the non-custodial parent, be ready to supply information about your income to corroborate your claims; if you are the custodial parent, the government will conduct an investigation.

Child support payments are expected to contribute to a child's housing, food, clothing, school and other expenses. Depending on your jurisdiction, it may or may not cover daycare, extracurricular activities or other things deemed non-essentials by the government.