Child Support Requires a Court Order

The payment of child support requires a court order. Normally child support is paid monthly by the noncustodial parent (usually the father) to the custodial parent (usually the mother) and is for the benefit of child(ren) of the former marriage.

In setting up a child support order, the court determines the amount of money to be paid by the non-custodial parent each month. The amount is based on established child support guidelines designated by each state. These guidelines consider the needs of the child, the custodial situation, and the economic resources of both parents. Most states also require that health insurance be provided for the child(ren); therefore, the court order may also include a provision outlining the medical care.When the child is in foster care, the court order may determine that both parents are bound to pay child support.  A life insurance policy is also very common to help protect the future of the child(ren) should the payor die before then child(ren) reach the age of emancipation. The typically amount required by the courts is $100,000, with then child(ren) as then beneficiary.

These days, courts in most states favor income withholding as the preferred method of child support collection. Automatic withholding permits the employer of the noncustodial parent to automatically deduct child support from his or her paycheck. These funds are then sent directly to the state’s child support collections agency for disbursement to the custodial parent.

Courts favor automatic income withholding since it takes payment out of the hands of the support parent. It also give the court more control when it comes to enforcing the support order and collecting back due support should the payor become delinquent.

The biggest mistake many parents make is they do not establish a court order for child support at the time of separation (or soon thereafter). Support is often paid on a periodic basis for an amount that is agreed to by the parents. Under this scenario there is no court record of the payments being made, which can easily lead to a path that ends up in court.

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