Five things you need to know about child support

Almost half of all couples get divorced, and if the couple has children one of the most contentious issues can be child support. So before considering filing for divorce it’s important to consider child support and what you need to know.

  1. Paying child support is not an option.

The state has a vested interest in the children of the community being educated, clothed, fed and emotionally supported. With this in mind, the state has instituted child support offices which assist families with the child support process. Assistance can include helping parents determine paternity of a child, locating birth parents, garnishing wages, and collecting child support.

The child support office in your state will need a significant amount of information from the paying parent to ensure child support is paid. Information which must be paid includes the name, address, and SSA number of the non-custodial parent, employment information, income and asset information, information about other children, and information about the children’s medical and educational needs.

  1. The government has several child support collection methods.

Concerned that your ex will suddenly disappear and refuse to pay child support? The good news is the government has several methods they can use to enforce a child support agreement. Specifically, they can collect tax refunds, place liens on real or personal property, seize assets, report nonpayment to the credit agencies and refuse to provide certain types of licenses.

  1. Child support can be collected directly by the state.

The government can help collect child support payments directly by garnishing the wages of the noncustodial parent, eliminating the need for you to contact your ex-spouse and hassle him for payment. The state may need you to provide information to them, however, about where your ex-spouse works or lives.

  1. The child support order can be modified.

Parental circumstances can change. Parents can get remarried, disabled, or lose their job. With this in mind, it is possible for either parent to review a child support order if there has been a significant change in their circumstance. The court can determine whether the order needs to be increased or decreased according to the current state child support guidelines.

  1. Child support and child visitation are two different legal issues.

One of the biggest points of contention with divorced couples is the nonpayment of child support. Regardless of why child support is not paid, the custodial parent may be tempted to withhold visitation from the nonpaying parent.

Before resorting to this action, however, it’s important to understand the laws of child custody. The state believes it is generally in the best interest of children to have a relationship with both of their parents (assuming contact is not barred by the court). With this in mind, it is not legal for you as the custodial parent to withhold visitation or bar your ex from seeing your child (as required by the custodial arrangement), regardless of whether or not the noncustodial parent is paying child support.

If your ex is not paying child support you need to contact the appropriate state agency and get help. Withholding your child is not the solution.

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