Bringing up a child in this world is not only emotionally draining and physically exhausting but also financially challenging. According to a report from 2017, the average cost attached to raising a child from birth to the age of 17 is approximated to be about $233,610. Naturally, single parents find it a challenge to raise a child to the best of their potential and to provide them with the best facilities in a world that are getting more and more expensive these days.
Since the parents birthed the child together, the responsibility to raise them and contribute to their upbringing falls equally on both their shoulders. When the parents are together, regardless of whether married or not, they both undertake the responsibility of the child. But if the couple breaks up or divorces, things get a little messy.
Typically, if one parent has been awarded sole custody of the child and is putting in the majority of the physical and emotional work, the other parent is supposed to contribute financially.
The payments and arrangements can be settled between the parents without getting any legal interferences, but it is best to do it through the court to avoid any complications later if the child-support paying parent decides to change their mind.
Process of Getting Child Support
Let's take a look at how the child support process may present for you.
Though it is not mandatory for the parents of the child to be married to acquire child support, establishing parentage is required. If the couple was married, they can ignore this step, but for an unmarried couple, it is necessary to prove parentage. The mother was obviously the mother, but to prove who the father is, there are paternity tests that can be done to prove that a certain person is the biological father of the child.
Regardless of whether the couple was married or not, the biological father is supposed to pay for child support, unless the mother’s current partner decides to legally adopt the child. `
Contact a Child Support Agency
Getting in touch with a child support agency can help your case and get you the much-needed assistance that you require. Child support agencies will educate you about the child support laws, the proper legal way to approach the case, and assign a lawyer to you to help you through the case. This is an optional step, however, and you can choose to skip it and get your own lawyer instead.
File a Court Order
There is the option of settling your child support payments with your child’s parent outside of court, and many do opt for such an arrangement if both the parents are sincere enough. However, it is not advisable for you to take this route. Sure, it is less complicated and perhaps even less lengthy, but it does have its own drawbacks. It is always better to do this the proper way through the court.
It is strongly encouraged that you file a court order for child support. This way, the child-support paying parent is bound by law to make timely payment, and if they ever try to avoid making the payments or change their mind, they can be held criminally liable by the courts. Since this is a court order, not paying child support will carry consequences for the parent.
There is some paperwork to be filled out when filing a court order, including the Financial Affidavit. Once you pay the filing fee, you are free to serve the summon to the other parent so they can appear in court.
The judge will determine the appropriate amount that the non-custodial parent is supposed to pay in child support after thoroughly examining the custodial and non-custodial parent’s income, assets, and the child’s expenses. This amount is the minimum that the non-custodial parent is supposed to pay; if they wish to pay more than the specified amount, they are free to do so.
Hire a Lawyer
You can choose to represent yourself in court, but it is not advised that you go through this process alone. Enlisting the help of a child support lawyer will ensure that you take the best possible course of action, get the right documentation submitted and served at the right time so that the process isn’t delayed for avoidable reasons.
Lawyers who are well-versed in the nitty-gritty of complicated family laws can provide you with valuable legal counsel and help you settle the case as soon as possible.
Collect Child Support Payments
Once the court order has been passed and the child support payment amounts decided, you must decide how you plan to collect the payments. This is also an arrangement that you can resolve with the child’s parent in person, or you can get a formal court ruling on it.
There are two ways of collecting child support payments; either the parents can exchange the money in person, or a notice is sent to the non-custodial parent’s employer, whereby deducting the support payments directly from the payroll and sending it to an account specified by the custodial parent. The latter is called an Income Deduction Order or an IDO.
For parents who part on bad terms, the IDO serves to be the best option as it ensures timely payments into an account and does not require any unnecessary communication between the parents. It is also beneficial because the money is directly cut from the person’s salary and flows into the account at a set time every month. However, if the non-custodial parent holds an unstable job or moves around a lot, this can prove to be a hassle.
How Long Can Child Support Take?
There is no set time on how long it can take for you to receive child support payments. Each case is different and can take varying amounts of time.
Your lawyer can give you a rough idea of the time it would take for your case to be resolved after studying the specifics of your case.
The cases can take from a month to 3 months to get settled, and for the child support money to start coming through.
How Can a Lawyer Help You?
Your family law lawyer can help you calculate child settlement costs, prepare the necessary documentation, and represent you in a much better and informed way in court. The lawyer will answer all your questions about child support rights and obligations and clear away any confusion and doubts on your part.
With a strong attorney by your side, you can even speed up the process and reach a formal settlement between the parents by making timely document submissions, among other things.
Give us a call to go over your case so we can come up with the best plan possible. Our initial consultation is free of charge.