Are you aware that in the United States, nearly one out of every four children live in a home without a father? And that figure is even higher for kids whose parents are not married. Therefore, it’s no surprise then that child support is such an important issue. It provides essential financial freedom for those who would otherwise be living with financial hardships.
Unfortunately, many fathers fail to pay for such causes. As per a recent study, only about 60% of non-custodial fathers are current on their support payments. If you’re a mother struggling to get the keep-up you and your kids deserve, you’re not alone.
To understand why child support is important, you must first understand what it is and how it works.
Why Child Support is Important, and What are the Steps Involved?
Firstly, it provides financial help for children. But it also helps ensure they access essential resources like healthcare and education. In addition, it can help improve the quality of the parent-child relationship.
Following are some steps that you must be aware of:
Step One: Determine Your State’s Child Support Guidelines
The primary step is to find out what the guidelines are in your state. These guidelines are laws that set the amount of support that one must pay. They differ in each state, so it’s essential to determine the policies in your particular state. You can easily find this information on your state’s website or by contacting a family lawyer specializing in such cases.
Step Two: Calculate the Amount You’re Owed
Your state’s guidelines will tell you how much child support you owe. The calculations are based on factors such as each parent’s income, the number of kids, and the time each parent spends with them.
Step Three: File a Petition
If the other parent is not paying for the cause, you’ll need to file a petition with your local court. Usually, you can file a petition through the county clerk’s office. You can also find forms and instructions online or at your local library. You can also choose to hire a family law lawyer to help you file a petition.
Step Four: Serve the Other Parent with the Petition
The next step is to “serve” the other parent with the petition. You must offer them a copy of the petition and all the supporting documents. The best way to do this is to hire a professional process server, but you can also have someone over eighteen hand-deliver the papers.
Step Five: Attend Court Hearings
After you’ve served the other parent, you’ll need to attend any court hearings that are scheduled. These hearings are usually short, giving both sides a chance to present their case. The judge will then decide on child prop-up.
Step Six: Enforce the Child Support Order
If the judge orders the other parent to pay child support, you’ll need to ensure they do it. Unfortunately, many parents fail to pay even after a court order has been issued. If this happens to you, take some steps to enforce the order.
One way to do this is by withholding money from the other parent’s wages. It is called wage garnishment, a legal way to ensure it is paid. Your lawyer can intercept the other parent’s tax refunds or put a lien on their property.
Step Seven: Modify the Child Support Order
If there are specific changes in your circumstances, your lawyer can always request the court to modify the said order. For example, if the other parent gets a raise, you can ask the court to increase the child support they owe. Or, if your kid’s requirements or needs change, you can ask for a modification.
These are helpful and valuable tips on getting the child support you deserve. In addition to these, every parent needs to understand why child support is important. Every case need is unique, so talk to a family law attorney in your state for specific advice. And remember, you’re not alone in this process – many resources are available to help you.