It's reasonably easy to get child support payments from a non-custodial biological parent. In fact, all states have agencies that will help you file a request for support of petition family court for the order. Establishing a legal child support obligation can be as simple as knowing where to turn for help.
The following steps will guide you to the correct agency and help you gather the necessary documents. Get child support payments and help your child access a higher standard of living.
CONTACT YOUR LOCAL CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT AGENCY (CSEA)
Even if you have not yet filed to get child support payments, your state's child support agency can help you get the ball rolling. Some CSEA's have experts on staff to help you file a claim right in their office. Others may not offer this service, but can direct you to the specific state department or agency that will help you through the process.
The names of these agencies and their services vary by state. The best way to find your local CSEA is to perform a Google search. The agency should have a website that is part of the state's larger government site. Call the number provided and ask where you should turn for help to get child support payments ordered.
(Call before you walk in to your local CSEA. You may have to wait in line a long time only to find out the services you need are offered elsewhere.)
NON-CUSTODIAL PARENT INFORMATION
It is not necessary, but knowing where to locate your child's parent will help speed up the process. If you know his or her current address, job, their date of birth, social security number, or phone number, bring those details with you to your local agency when you apply. When the courts know how to contact a parent who needs to make child support payments, they can skip the lengthy process of trying to locate them.
If you don't know the current address, phone number, email, or place of employment for the non-custodial parent, the state will make efforts on your behalf to locate him or her. Write down as much information as you have about his or her last known residence and job.
BIRTH CERTIFICATE & SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
Whether or not the birth certificate was ever signed by the non-custodial parent, it is required that you present evidence of both the existence of the child and your relationship to the child. If the birth certificate has been signed by the non-custodial parent, it is almost certain (provided there are no ground to contest the order) that your child will be eligible to get child support payments.
A valid social security number (if applicable) for the child is also required in most states. Whether or not you need to present a physical copy of the child's social security card is up to the local family courts and state agency.
APPEARING IN COURT
It is not always necessary to appear in court, though you may be required to meet with a judge, the non-custodial parent, and other legal representatives to finalize an agreement. If you fear for your safety, explain this to the agency helping you file the request for support. They may be able to advocate for different terms.
If the alleged non-custodial parent disputes their obligation, you may be required to submit your child to DNA testing in order to legally establish the obligation. If the non-custodial parent is unwilling to submit to a test, you may be forced to appear in court to establish an order for the test.
- Establishing an order for payments does not necessary guarantee you will receive them. Many parents fail to meet their child support obligations. However, child support enforcement agencies exist to help make sure an obligated parent complies with the court order.
- Without private legal representation, the amount child support ordered will likely be determined by applying income information to established standards. If you are seeking more than the state considers 'standard' you may need to hire a child support attorney.
- Even with an order in place, if a non-custodial parent has valid financial hardships, the state may suspend those payments until the parent's income increases. If that is the case, the state may elect to reimburse you for those missing payments through other programs, such as Temporary Aid to Needy Families.
- Have faith. If you are sure the non-custodial parent is also the biological parent of your child, you will likely get child support payments ordered.