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.