Child support orders are issued by a family court judge according to state-specific guidelines, which take into account the parents’ relative income levels and other factors. Both parties may later seek to change the payment amount through a process called child support modification. If the parent who does not have custody of the child, also known as the non-custodial parent, refuses to pay, there are steps the court can take to enforce payment, such as wage garnishment.
Additionally, a divorcing husband is normally entitled to a DNA test to establish paternity. The outcome of this test may have important effects on the husband’s child support obligations, provided it is done prior to the establishment of paternity and child support.
Child support obligations end when the child in question reaches adulthood, at which point the non-custodial parent’s obligation ends. The age and circumstances at which this is judged to occur are different in every state. However, a child over the age of 18 may still require child support to be paid to the custodial parent if the child is not yet self-supporting. In cases where the child has significant mental or physical disabilities that will prevent him or her from ever becoming self-supporting, child support may continue indefinitely.