Guide to Getting Child Support Payments


When the court awards custody of the children to one parent, the court will generally order the other parent to pay a monthly allowance to the custodial parent to help the custodial parent meet the monthly expenses of the children. However the court will not order the payment of child support to the custodial parent unless the custodial parent asks the court for child support. This guide will help you with the process of getting child support.


Generally the parent who has custody of the child – the custodial parent will be eligible for child support. The child primarily lives with the custodial parent and as such the custodial parent has responsibility for the day to day care of the child. Generally the court will designate the custodial parent but in single parent household where one parent has been taking care of the child, that parent is generally assumed to be the custodial parent, especially if the other does not seek custody. Just because you are the custodial parent, it does not mean that you will receive child support. There are a few other legal and practical issues such as whether the other parent can be located and is there a court order for child custody. If the paternity is disputed, the paternity must be proved. Talk to an experienced child custody attorney.

Amount of Child Support

Every state has its own guidelines for determining the amount of child support that must be paid. These guidelines vary from state to state. Some of the factors that are considered when determining the amount of child support include the income of both parents and the children’s living expenses and requirements. In most states the amount of child support is generally a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income.

What Child Support Covers

Child support covers more than just the basic needs of the child like food and clothing. It covers other expenses like medical care, school fees, entertainment expenses and extracurricular activities. In some states, the non-custodial parent may be required to pay the college expenses of the children even after they attain majority.

Agreements and Orders

There are three ways of determining child support:

1) An agreement reached between the parents through informal negotiations
2) An agreement reached between the parents after using an alternative dispute resolution mechanism like mediation or collaborative law process
3) Court Order

If you and your spouse are able to work out an agreement with or without the assistance of your attorneys, it is the best solution. In fact it is much quicker and less expensive than litigation. If you are unable to work out an agreement amongst yourselves, you can try mediation or collaborative law process which are non-adversarial and less formal compared to litigation and also quicker and less expensive. If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement through negotiations or alternative dispute mechanisms, your only option is to let the court decide on child support.


If you have an agreement on child support, the agreement will form part of the divorce decree. In the absence of an agreement, the court will order who pays and how much. Should there be a significant change in the circumstances of either parent, the court will on the application of either parent modify or change the order. What is a significant change in circumstances will depend on the facts of the case but generally loss of employment, sudden medical emergency, disability or increase/decrease in income are considered as significant change in the circumstances. In some states, the child support order will have a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) clause. The amount of child support changes every year according to the changes in the annual cost of living which is generally calculated based on economic indicators. If your child support has such a clause, then you need not go to court to have the child support payment amount changed based on changes in the cost of living.

Why You Should Hire An Attorney?

Consult with an experienced child custody attorney if you are the custodial parent of your children and you want to get child support. The Attorney can review your case and determine your eligibility for child support and advise you on the amount of child support that you can receive based on your state’s child support guidelines. You can use the attorney directory to find one near you.

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