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The Basics of Child Support: What a Single Parent Should Know

Divorce or separation can be difficult for the parties involved. With children involved, the situation can be traumatic. The law has long recognized the right of custodial parents to receive child support payments from a non-custodial parent. Federal regulations in the United States require each state to have a mechanism for providing child support.

About Child Support

An order for child support comes from state courts. The oversight and enforcement of payments to the parents is usually delegated to a state agency. Individuals who wish to apply for child support payments can do so either through these agencies or through the courts. Using the state agencies is a wise decision for single parents, as they perform a wide variety of services, including collections.

The child support order requires a parent to make certain payments to the other parent. These payments are fixed in the order, and any change in amount must result in a change to the order. Child support payments must be made to the parent, and not the child. Any gift to the child does not count against the outstanding amount of child support payments owed. These payments may be made with a variety of payment mechanisms, including cash.

Calculating the amount of child support that is to be paid to a divorcing parent differs from state to state. Some states, such as California and Florida, apportion the responsibility based upon the parties’ relative income levels. Other states use a model where the order demands a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. Some states use an approach with numerous factors. Each state has its own regulations, although some states follow general support guidelines.

The time required to get a child support order varies depending upon numerous factors. According to an Orlando family lawyer, obtaining a child support order in
Florida normally takes six to nine months, but it can be longer if the delinquent parent makes matters difficult for the agency regulating the order. These difficulties can include being hard to locate, failing to provide certain information, or simply leaving the country.

Enforcing Child Support Orders

Failing to pay child support can result in numerous consequences. First, the state commonly reports the failure to pay child support to credit agencies, which can detrimentally affect the delinquent parent’s credit. Next, the state can force the absentee parent to pay child support by garnishing wages and even unemployment benefits. Additionally, states can revoke the driver’s licenses of individuals with unpaid child support. Finally, individuals who are ordered to pay child support and who choose not to do so can be fined or even put in prison.

Moving out-of-state will not save individuals from having to pay child support payments, in compliance with the Full Faith and Credit Clause. All states will enforce child support orders from another state. Unfortunately, this can create jurisdictional problems if one or both parties move out-of-state. These problems can be addressed either by the state agency or by competent legal counsel.

[box type=”gray”]Being a working parent and raising children is difficult. Child support can help pay for clothes, school supplies, and other necessities of life. Individuals interested in seeking an order for child support or modifying an order for child support should contact their state regulatory body and apply for child support.[/box]

Author Molly P. is also a single mother of two.  This article is made possible by the firm of Katz and Phillips, P.A., an experienced group of attorneys working in the Florida region who specialize in divorce law.  When a parent is faced with divorce or custody issues and in need of the advice of an Orlando family lawyer, this experienced team of lawyers are the ones to call. Co-founder James D. Phillips has a good deal of trial experience as an advocate for children who were neglected or abused so you know that when representing you, he will have your children’s best interest in mind.

Born with a passion for art, music, fun, fashion, adventure, blogging, and life lived to the fiercest! A great variety of educational, professional, and personal experience has gifted me an open mind, strong heart, and a wealth of stories to tell. Concerned with human rights and the state of the natural world. Thriving on the fresh, thoughtful, healthy, and hilarious.

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