What is Child Support?

If you are a parent, you should have at least a basic understanding of child support, even if you think that your relationship is secure. When two parents separate, or were never married or seriously together to begin with, child support payments may need to be made.

The Custodial Parent

If one parent has custody of the child, that parent is expected to automatically support the child, at least to a certain degree. They will not have to actually pay child support, but they will be paying for the child’s food, housing, and other expenses.

The Non-Custodial Parent

The non-custodial parent, or the parent that the child doesn’t live with, may be expected to pay child support. If you are the custodial parent, you have the option to try to get the other parent to pay child support. If you are the non-custodial parent and the court orders you to, you must pay

the amount that the court tells you to pay on a monthly basis. Some parents make their own child support agreements, but many legalize the agreement.

Joint Custody Situations

In some cases, parents share custody of the child or children. If a joint custody child support case goes to court, a judge will look at two basic factors. The first factor is how long the child stays with each parent. The judge will try to strike a balance between physical and emotional time versus money spent. So, the parent that spends the least amount of time with the child is likely to have to pay child support.

The judge will also look at the financial resources of each parent. The parent who makes the most money may be required to contribute more to supporting the children financially.

Other Child Support Factors

There are several other factors that can determine whether or not you have to pay child support or can collect it from your ex-spouse, depending on the situation. Those factors may also determine how much you or your ex might have to pay. Some of those factors include:

  • Whether or not your child has ever lived with you or the other parent.
  • Whether or not you were ever married to the other parent.
  • The child’s standard of living prior to the separation.
  • Any special needs that the child may have.
  • The financial status of both you and the other parent.
  • The financial and emotional support network of the child and whichever parent has custody.

If you are unsure about whether or not you or your ex-spouse should pay child support, your best bet is to contact your local Department of Child Support Services for more information. However, you should note that some states refer to it as the Department of Child Support Enforcement, or another similar name.

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Child Support Services

There are multiple child support services and organizations located across the United States. They can be found in every single state at various agencies. The Office of Child Support Enforcement works closely with each of those tribal, state, and federal agencies in order to make sure that as many children as possible receive the support that they need and deserve.

Types of Child Support Services Agencies

There are several types, or levels, of child support services agencies in the country. At the top level is the federally run Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), which is actually a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The OCSE website, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css is a great resource for parents and other concerned parties who want to learn more about how child support is calculated and enforced in the United States.

The next level is state child support agencies. Each state has its own agencies with its own variations on child support laws and calculations. The state child support services offered by those agencies tend to be similar in every state, but there are subtle differences. There are even differences in the names of the organizations that govern child support in each…

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Top 10 Things to Know When Applying for Child Support

If you have custody of your child, or children, and you want to apply to get the other parent to pay child support, there are a lot of things that you need to know. Here are 10 of the most important things to get you started.

Where to Seek Assistance

The first thing you need to know is where to seek assistance. You can consult a lawyer to get a child support petition started with the court, but you do have other options. Your first step should be to contact your local or state child support agency. They can advise you of your rights, help you estimate how much you are owed, and even help you to track down the other parent.

Parent and Child Information

When you sit down with a child support caseworker at your local or state agency, he or she will want to know as much as possible about your case. So, you should prepare ahead of time. Make sure that you have information gathered that includes the names of the parents and children involved, as well as social security numbers, addresses, work information if you have it, and any information you have that can prove paternity.

How to Track Down…

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Reporting Child Support Fraud

Unfortunately, child support fraud is a fairly common occurrence in the United States. There are many ways to commit the act of child support fraud, and some are easier to track than others. For example, someone could take on only jobs that pay in cash and then not report their income. Alternatively, they could simply avoid getting a job on purpose. It’s even possible for a person to accidentally not pay their child support, if their employer is supposed to automatically withhold it and the system fails to do so. However, regardless of the methods or intentions involved, if you suspect someone of child support fraud, it’s important to report the situation to the authorities in your area as quickly as possible.

Make Sure That You Have Proof

Since issues of fraud relating to child support are taken very seriously by the authorities, you need to make sure that you have proof before you accuse someone. Otherwise, you could be doing a lot of harm to an innocent person and wasting a lot of people’s time. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get true proof, since the person isn’t likely to admit to fraud. However, you could get pictures or receipts for…

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Parental Locator Services for Child Support

If you have one or more children and want the other parent to pay child support, but you don’t know where they are, the first step is to try to locate them.

Start at Your Local Child Support Agency

The first thing that you can do is talk to your local child support agency. When you open a case with them, they can use the tools at their disposal to locate the missing parent. When you meet with the caseworker, just be sure to bring proof of paternity. That could include a certified birth certificate, letters to the child from the other parent, divorce paperwork, or anything else that indicates that the parent and child are linked.

If it can’t be easily proven that the person is the biological parent, your local child support agency still may be able to help you. In fact, they can often track down the alleged parent and either get them to voluntarily submit to DNA testing or help you to get a court order for DNA testing.

In order to help the agency track down the person in question, you should also bring as much of the following information as possible to your interview: