As confusing and volatile as the child support process can be, there guidelines that you can reference to make sure you aren’t missing anything. Some steps may need to be revisited at times depending on how everything shakes out. In general, keep these steps in mind, and you can see where you are in the sequence so you will know where to pick up, if necessary.
Step 1 – Open a child support case
Step 2 – Locate the other parent
Step 3 – Establish paternity
Step 4 – Establish a child/medical support order
Step 5 – Collect support
Step 6 – Distribute payment
Step 7 – Enforce a child/medical support order
Step 8 – Modify a support order
Step 9 – Provide service for interstate cases
Step 10 – Close the case
Step 1 – In order to open a case you will need your own personal information, as well as personal information about the other parent and the child. This will include dates of birth, social security numbers, any birth certificates or marriage licenses or divorce orders, tax returns and W2 information, paycheck stubs, etc.
Step 2 – As much as you can help locate the other parent and their information, the faster the process will be. If the other parent can not be located, records will be checked against he DMV, credit agencies, law enforcement agencies, employment agencies, etc.
Step 3 – Paternity must be determined in order to provide support. That can be done by default (not contesting) or through a simple genetic test.
Step 4 – The non-custodial parent will be served papers that show a proposed amount based on a child support calculator. The parent has a chance to respond, and/or go to court. There will be an ordered amount with or without a response. Some states also require that the order include health insurance to be provided for the child.
Step 5 – The parent will either willingly pay that amount to the custodial parent that is ordered, or have their wages garnished by their employer. If garnishing the wages is not an option, there are other methods to obtain payment from the non-custodial parent. Payments can be made directly to the other parent. They also can be made through the online state system that is set up, or through www.SupportPay.com. Under the law, the obligation to pay child support is considered more important than any other debts owed.
(Stay tuned for Steps 6-10 next week!)