A child support order ensures children are taken care of financially by their parents until they are old enough to be considered legally independent by the state. When parents spend near-equal time with their children, child support is supposed to be provided by the parent with the higher income. However, parents play different roles when there is a significant time difference in custody. Custodial parents cover their financial obligation as they provide most of the child’s care and the primary home where the children spend the most time.
Either parent can seek the court’s approval after both agree, or either parent can ask the court to determine the child support amount instead. Both parents should consult with a family attorney to better understand their roles and child support. The process of child support can be frustrating, but this article provides a general guide to obtaining child support.
Applying for child support
The first step in the process is applying for child support. The court will explain what either or both parents need to send, like the most recent tax return and the child’s birth certificate. A child support calculation sheet may also generate an estimate based on a state formula. The income share model is what most states use to estimate the support amount. However, you may be able to prove why a different amount is better for your child. In these cases, either parent can request an alternate amount other than the calculated estimation. But, paperwork must be provided to the court hearing for the support case in the correct jurisdiction.
Serving Support Paperwork
The next step is to advise the other parent that you have requested child support by serving them with the child support papers. This should include a copy of the application form and a summons in the documents. Some states have different requirements for how a defendant can be served. While some states will allow you to serve the papers personally, others may require a sheriff, a process server, or someone who is related to you and is at least 18 to serve. An Affidavit of Service must be provided to the court as proof that the defendant was served.
Await the Other Parent’s Response
The average time frame for the defendant to respond is about 20-30 days. If they do not respond in time, you may be awarded the requested child support. A child support hearing will be needed if they file an objection to paying the requested amount. The court will decide how much the defendant must pay based on the financial documents. At times, the defendant may be willing to negotiate a support agreement with the primary parent.
Once an agreement has been met, it is written into a stipulation, or some other agreement form so that a judge can review it. You’ll receive a signed copy of the agreement for your records once it becomes a court order upon approval.
Attending a Child Support Hearing
During the hearing, the judge looks at the papers both parents have turned in and listens to their arguments and proof. The court could decide after a hearing or take a few court sessions. A judge may give a temporary support order until the judge makes the final order. The judge’s decision will be written into a court order, or your agreement will be signed by the judge, making it a court order. The court will provide the child support order to you.
Neither parent can refuse to uphold their obligation to the child support court order. In addition, if a parent pays child support promptly, that parent may be allowed to visit the child. For child support order enforcement, the court will send a copy of the child support order or agreement to a local child support enforcement agency. This agency will make sure that you’re paying child support. There are repercussions if you’re not paying child support.
“A child custody order and a child support order are different. It is important to understand these legal differences to take care of the child in the best way possible from both parental vantage points,” said Attorney Samah Abukhodeir of The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm.
In some cases, a parent can face sanctions that include from the parent’s income taxes or lottery winnings. The parent can even face jail time for missing several payments.
Child Support Order Modifications
You can modify the support if a change significantly affects the support amount. You can negotiate with the other parent mediation or allow the court to decide the adjusted amount.