Demystifying The Law: Paying & Receiving Child Support
In last Thursday’s blog, we looked at how child support is calculated and when it can be modified. Today we’ll look at a few other child support-related topics.
When Parents Aren’t Married
The parents’ marital status has no effect on how child support is calculated. But, if the child’s father hasn’t voluntarily acknowledged paternity, you may have to go to court to establish paternity before child support can be calculated and awarded.
Paternity procedures vary from state to state, but usually include:
- A voluntary acknowledgment
- DNA testing
- Court order based on other evidence
Waiving Child Support
All minor children are entitled to support from both of their parents. This means that parents can’t privately decide between themselves to forego child support.
A parent’s child support obligation is a continuing obligation that can’t be removed by agreement. A child’s right to receive support from their parents is inherent and can’t be waived. The status of the parents’ relationship has no impact. In other words, it doesn’t matter if the parents are divorced, separated or unmarried. It doesn’t matter if parents don’t get along. Eliminating child support isn’t an option.
For example, parents can’t agree to limit the duration of child support in exchange for the father giving up his parental rights. A parent can’t buy another parent’s rights or sell his own rights. A child’s right to support can’t be eliminated by a contract between the parents.
Most states now offer a system to facilitate and monitor child support payments. When you use a state’s child support registry, the paying parent sends a check or electronic payment to the state, which then forwards the money to the other parent.
This kind of system allows the paying parent to prove that payments have been made each month in full and in a timely manner. It can also ensure anonymity if one parent has a restraining order against the other.
Enforcing Child Support Orders
When the parent who’s ordered to pay child support fails to make regular payments, the other parent can ask the state to take enforcement action. This can include garnishing the person’s paycheck, seizing tax returns, placing a lien on any property the parent owns or even sentencing the parent to jail time.
Many states even check for “deadbeat” parents when renewing hunting and fishing licenses, as well as driver’s licenses, all of which can be denied until payments are caught up.
If you aren’t receiving the child support payments you’re owed, contact your state’s attorney general or child support enforcement agency.
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