Child Support

Your Financial Obligation

Child Support in family law is the financial obligation of a parent to make periodic payments either directly or through a state agency to the other parent for the financial support needed when the relationship or marriage has been terminated. In Child support cases there is an “obligor”, who is typically the non-custodial parent who pays the “oblige” who typically is the custodial parent but in some cases could be a guardian, caregiver or state agency.

Steps to Obtain Child Support

Specific procedures will vary by jurisdiction but the general process of filing for court ordered child support has a few basic steps.

1. Prepare motions and petitions - Preparation of court documents can be done Pro-Se or by retaining a private attorney.

2. File and serve other party - After the complaint for establishment of child support is completed it must be filed at your local court house or Magistrate and served to the other party involved. Some courts will have process services available, but in most cases you will need to arrange to have the other party served.

3. Resolve any paternity issues - If there is an outstanding paternity issue, a court ordered DNA test might be required to proceed.

4. Courts will establish child support and other provisions including medical orders - After all financial information is calculated and, in some cases, physical custody has been established, the courts will establish a child support order. The final order should be a reflection of the current financial state of the parties involved and be proportional to the amount of physical custody shared by both parents.

Modifying Child Support

In most cases, once a child support order is established, it requires a significant change in circumstances to be modified. A change in circumstances can include the experience of financial hardship, extraordinary healthcare expenses and the obligation of supporting another child or a shift in parenting responsibilities of the child in question. In any of these cases, either parent has the right to petition the court for a modification because it is their responsibility to bring to the attention of the courts any change in the circumstances of their case. Modifications are not automatic and, in many cases, a parent can end up in an unfavorable position if they do nothing when a change in their life has occurred.


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