5 Essential Things to Know About Child Support Law

Each individual component of the child support law used in the United States is worth taking a look at before you go to court. A child support order occurs when parent or partner has primary custody of a minor child. The noncustodial parent is responsible for making monthly payments that go toward the support of that child. The law also covers how the government collects on orders and what happens when the noncustodial parent moves to a new state.

Calculating Support Orders

One clear aspect of child support law deals with how the court calculates the amount of a support order. Both parents will have the chance to decide on this amount together and present it to the judge. If the two cannot reach an agreement, the judge will look at the income that the noncustodial parent makes and the expenses of raising the child to decide on the amount. States can actually take up to 75% of what the noncustodial makes to cover any back child support due and the current order.

When Circumstances Change

There are a number of penalties you will face if you become delinquent on your child support. Some parents simply give up because they think they cannot afford an attorney. If you lose your job, take a pay cut or go through other life changes, contact the Child Support Enforcement Agency in your state. Explain the situation and request a hearing for an adjustment. During this hearing, the judge will listen to your claims and decide if you should pay less each month. The judge can even suspend your payments to give you time to get back on your feet.

Collecting on Orders

The Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, which is the most important child support law, allows the district attorney to do several things to collect on orders. If you miss one or more payments, the DA can go after you for the back support for those months. The government can withhold any tax refunds you receive from the state or federal government or seize property that you own to cover those back payments. Property can include real estate you own and any bank accounts in your name. You also risk losing your driver’s license or passport and having the government garnish your wages.

Moving States

Child support does not go away simply because a noncustodial parent moves to a new city or state. The court ties that child support order to your social security number. If you move or stop making payments, the Child Support Enforcement Agency will routinely do a search for your social. Once it finds your number in use, it will contact your employer and take steps to garnish your wages for the amount owed and for your current order.

Going to Jail

Though it may seem impossible to believe, one area of child support law allows noncustodial parents to serve time in jail for failure to pay their support orders. Once the Child Support Enforcement Agency takes reasonable steps to find that individual, it will file a claim with the court. The court can then issue a warrant that requires the parent to appear in front of a judge or magistrate. If that parent does not have a job and is not willing to find a job, the judge can place that individual in jail for failure to pay.

Child support laws protect parents and ensure that children get the financial support they need. Some areas of child support law deal with the calculating of orders and with the enforcement of child support orders.