Child Support Overview
Child support can be a stressful and contentious topic for parents. Whether you've recently separated and need money to support your child or you're trying to enforce a child support order against a parent who won't pay up, you've come to the right place. You may disagree with the way your child's other parent is spending child support and want to know if his or her actions are legal. Maybe you feel a modification of child support is necessary due to a change in your financial situation, but don't know where to start. FindLaw's Child Support section has in-depth information on dozens of child support-related issues.
This section provides information on how to obtain child support, make child support payments, and modify child support, as well as how support is calculated, enforcement techniques, and the consequences of not paying child support. In addition, there are links to state child support laws and guidelines and helpful tips on hiring a lawyer to help you with your case.
Obtaining Child Support
If you haven't applied for child support yet, there are important first steps to take to take. You could make a child support agreement with your co-parent outside the court setting, such as through mediation or informal negotiations. You could also obtain a child support order from a court. Either way, you need to know where the other parent is, establish legal fatherhood or paternity, and determine the appropriate amount for child support using your state's guidelines.
Paying Child Support
If you have a child who is primarily housed at another parent's home, you are most likely going to owe that person child support. Even if you don't get along with your child's other parent, these child support payments are to help raise your child. Ignoring an order to pay child support can lead to serious consequences, so knowing how much to pay and how to submit it to the other parent is important.
Modifying Child Support
Over time, people's financial situations often change, sometimes for the better, but unfortunately, not always. If you can't afford the child support you're ordered or agreed to pay, it may be time for a modification. The same income worksheets used to initially determine the appropriate amount of support may need to be resubmitted with updated information. This subsection provides state laws on the modification process and offers answers to common questions about modification.
Child Support Enforcement
What happens if you don't pay your court-ordered child support? Trying to avoid child support by being paid under the table can hurt you in the long run. Depending on where you live, the courts have a number of tools at their disposal for enforcing child support orders, including garnishing your wages, seizing your property, and revoking your driver's license. You may also be unable to obtain a U.S. passport.
Hiring a Child Support Attorney
Obtaining and modifying child support typically aren't easy tasks. Hiring an experienced family law attorney can relieve some of the stress of obtaining, modifying, or enforcing a child support order.
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