JLJ Family Law » Posts for tag 'Child Support'

Collecting Child Support


Child support delinquencies have reached an epidemic level in the United States, plunging many parents (most of them women) and children into poverty and bankruptcy. Approximately 30 million children in the USA are owed more than $41 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) in unpaid child support, according to estimates by the Association for the Enforcement of Child Support (ACES). Another nine million or more children on welfare aren’t even covered by a basic child support order.

What can you do to protect yourself from bankruptcy, welfare, or other financial hardship when you’re a single parent?

First of all, it’s very important to file for child support as soon as you and your partner separate, because child support judgments are issued as of the date of filing and are not retroactive. If you’re unmarried, file for child support as soon after the birth of your child as possible.

Who Is Obligated to Pay Child Support?

Both biological and adoptive parents are required to support their children until they reach the age of majority (usually 18 years old) and longer if they have special needs such as a disability. If a child is on active military duty or has been adopted by somebody else, the parents’ support obligations end.

Both mothers and fathers have a right to receive child support if they have custody of the child(ren). Step-parents are not legally obligated to support their spouse’s children by another marriage or relationship. A father who never married the mother of his child is still obligated to pay child support, but sometimes there can be a question about whether the child is his.

If a father acknowledges a child as his own, he’s obligated to pay child support. If a man takes a child into his home and openly treats the child as his own, he may be legally presumed to be the father, and in some states this cannot be disproved even if blood tests show the man is not the biological father.

Non-custodial parents are obligated to pay child support even if they are denied visitation by the other parent.