What to expect when you get divorced

Image of child support hearing

When you get divorced, figuring out custody and child support is usually the most time consuming, confusing, and emotional part of the whole process. They say that ‘knowing is half the battle’, so I wanted to put together a quick overview of the child support process so you know what to expect.

Step 1 – Determine child support payment amount based on state guidelines. If you live in California, you can use this online calculator to help you. Your lawyer will also be able to help you with this step.

Step 2 – The custodial parent and his/her lawyer will complete a Summons & Complaint and file it with the local Child Support Agency. A Summons & Complaint is a legal document that establishes paternity and requests a specific amount of money for child support. The non-custodial parent can either agree to the amount requested, or file an Answer to Complaint form. If the non-custodial parent does not respond, the Summons & Complaint will become a final judgment and the non-custodial parent will be required to pay that amount of child support.

Step 3 – Often times, a judge will have the final say in child support payment amounts. One parent will file the Summons & Complaint and the other parent will file the Answer to Complaint. The judge will take all of the provided information into account to make a ruling on who pays child support and how much. These rulings are considered final and can only be changed with a new order or stipulation that is approved by the court.

Step 4 – The local Child Support Agency will issue an Income Withholding Order to the paying parent’s employer and withholding will begin as required by the court. Money will be taken directly out of the paying parent’s paycheck and transferred to the receiving parent’s bank account.

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