Raising a child as a single parent can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. One way of relieving the financial burden of a single parent is seeking child support. For many single parents, pursuing child support can seem like a difficult, time-consuming process.
Most people are tempted to keep off the process of filing for child support officially when they’re getting along with the other parent and have a verbal agreement on how to support the child financially. But situations can change. Having a legal child support mechanism provides the necessary parameters to keep your child protected for years.
To get you started with the child support process confidently, there are basics that you need to know.
What Is the Duration of Child Support?
In very basic terms, child support refers to the recurring amount that a non-custodial parent gives to the parent taking care of the child for the latter’s welfare. This support is intended to cater to expenses related to raising the child, including health, medical, housing, schooling, and meals.
Often, the support is based on an agreement that’s fair to both parents. A child support agreement can be initiated voluntarily or by a court order. Payments for child support are made until the child attains the age of majority or graduates from high school, depending on your state’s laws.
Expenses relating to college education are not included in child support orders. However, there are states that award post-secondary support or financial assistance to support college tuition after high school graduation.
In some countries, laws require parents who don’t have custody over a child to continue paying child support until the child joins the military in active duty, parental rights get terminated through a legal process, or the court declares the minor emancipated.
How Much Will Be Paid in Child Support?
The amount that a non-custodial parent is expected to pay in child support largely depends on the guidelines and laws that the resident state sets. Often, states consider each parent’s income, the number of dependents, and the number of children that parents share in determining the amount of child support. Consideration is also given to the parent who has custody of the child.
Most states use the income-share model that combines income from both parents. However, there are states that only consider the income of the non-custodial parent and assume that the custodial parent pays for basic expenses of food, shelter, and clothing.
Where both parents have joint custody of the minor, spend equal time with the child, and earn relatively the same amount, there’s a high chance that neither parent will be ordered to pay child support. Instead, the court can order each of you to take care of the child’s expenses whenever you’re with the child. However, if one parent earns significantly more than the other, he or she will be required to pay child support.
What Does the Process of Filing Child Support Look Like?
As a single parent, you can file for child support by doing the following:
1.Understand Your State’s Child Custody Law
Child support laws vary from one state to another. Before you start the process of filing for child support, familiarize yourself with the laws that your state has and the model that it uses to determine child support.
2. Reach Out to the Child Support Office
Get in touch with the child support office in your area to get answers to any questions that you might have. Officials in the child support office may help you to open your case. While you can file the application by yourself, consider enlisting the help of family lawyers if the other parent contests the child support terms.
3. Submit Your Child Support Application
The child support office is the best place to apply for child support. Most states have online applications. To submit the application successfully, ensure that you have an acknowledgment of paternity signed by the father of the minor voluntarily.
If the father fails to acknowledge paternity or you’re not sure of who the father is, organize for a DNA test with the help of your local child support office.
Ensure that you have all the necessary documents to support your application. These include social security cards, birth certificates, proof of income, your address, child-related expenses like health and daycare, and assets.
4. Agree On the Child Support Order
A child support order is an agreement that shows the amount that the non-custodial parent will pay, and payments will be made. Often, it includes provisions for medical and health cover, costs related to school, among others. The terms of the child support order can be agreed upon in advance by the parents. If this is not possible, the court makes a decision.
5. Present Yourself in Court Hearing
Once your application has been submitted, a date for a court hearing will be set. You’ll be required to appear before the judge. To ensure that you get a fair order, ensure that you present yourself before the court for the hearing with all necessary documents.
If you’re are single parent, you can ease the financial burden of raising your child or children single-handedly by seeking child support. To file for child support, you need to know what your state laws provide. To get the process started, apply the information provided above.