What is child support? In short, child support is an arrangement where a non-custodial parent makes monthly payments to the child's legal guardian.
The payments go towards the child's needs, including food, shelter, medical services, transportation, and even entertainment. Child support usually lasts until the child turns 18 or graduates high school.
When you're researching child support, you'll likely see a few terms over and over again:
Each state has its own child support regulations. Oftentimes, the amount depends on factors such as each parent's income, the age of the children, and how many children are involved. You can find child support calculators online that will give you a ballpark idea of how much support you or the other parent will have to pay.
There are a few federal regulations on child support. For example, people who neglect child support payments for more than a year, and owe $5,000 or more, risk hefty fines and even a stay in prison.
However, the smaller details of how child support works are handled by individual states. Most states use one of three models to decide how much money the non-custodial parent needs to pay:
If someone isn’t paying child support, the court will usually have to compel payment. Courts have several options to get the money from the delinquent spouse.
In some cases, a court orders the non-custodial parent's employer to withhold child support from the parent's pay and send it to the local child support services offices. In other cases, the government may withhold tax refunds, establish property liens, or take other measures.
Sometimes, a child's parents can reach an agreement outside of court through a mediator. However, a lawyer who knows local child support regulations can still help ensure that a case's outcome does not place an undue burden on either of the parents.
The question "what is child support" has a simple answer, but child support cases can often become complicated. If you’re face child support issues, hiring a lawyer and knowing the basic process can equip you for the road ahead.
Child support case outcomes depend on several factors. Here is a quick look at what can happen.
Learn every step of the child support enforcement process, from filing a petition to modifying an order. See how long each step takes and what it costs.
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