Insights On Establishing, Enforcing, And Modifying Child Support Orders

Posted on: 29 April 2021

Family law makes provisions for child support. Court-ordered child support is meant to cater to the child's needs, both basic and otherwise. It is the legal responsibility of a non-custodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent, and neglecting to do so carries some consequences.

Establishing Child Support

Talk to a family lawyer about what guidelines to follow when trying to come up with a reasonable child support amount. If your co-parent and yourself can agree on an amount, have the lawyer write up the agreement. You will then need to present it to a judge whose approval will make it an official court order.

If you cannot agree on the amount, you will need to seek the court's intervention of the local agency tasked with the child support mandate. Have your family lawyer file the child support order. Your attorney will walk you through the application process in your state, highlighting which documents you require when filing and what to expect.

Penalties for Failing to Pay

A non-custodial parent who fails to honor their legal responsibility of paying child support faces several penalties outlined in family law. The penalties vary across different states and include the following:

  • The suspension or revocation of various licenses, from driving licenses to professional licenses.
  • Wage garnishment, and may also include seizing both federal and state tax refunds.
  • Fines and penalties, which will add up the total amount owed
  • Exclusion from the receipt of some government benefits
  • Being dismissed from the military
  • A lien being placed on the delinquent parent's property to cover the child support arrears.

Modifying Child Support

Each state has some of its own rules for modifying child support orders. However, the common ground is either party must show there has been a significant change in circumstances since you entered into the initial child support order. Your family lawyer will advise you on what meets the threshold and what doesn't. 

A significant change in income, for example, is cause for modifying child support orders. A medical diagnosis leaving you unable to work is another reason, as the child has new or different needs from what was considered when reaching the initial order.

Best Interests

The child's interests are a priority in this family law matter. An experienced family lawyer can guide you through filing for support, initiating recovery of child support orders, and filing a modification dictated by circumstances.