When you’re going through a divorce or are unmarried with a child, the child support process can be difficult to navigate. Regardless of relationship status, having a court order for child support usually makes the process easier for both parents, and ensures the child or children get the financial support they deserve.
Rather than face a child support agreement on your own, you can get help from Collins Family & Elder Law Group to help you understand what court-ordered child support is, and how it is accessed.
What Is Court-Ordered Child Support?
When child support is ordered by the court, it means that a judge from the family court has set specific parameters for child support payments. The judge determines which parent will pay child support, how much they will pay per child or children, and how often payments need to be made.
If a judge does not finalize a support order, it is not considered court-ordered child support.
Getting a Court Order for Child Support
To get a child support order assigned by the court, you’ll need to be in one of two situations:
- An unmarried parent seeking support from the other parent
- A married couple getting divorced when a child/children (18 or younger) are involved
If you are filing for child support as an unmarried parent, you will need to file to establish paternity unless the other parent agrees the child is theirs. From there, you’ll need to file an Application for Support. With that form filled out, you’re ready to take your paperwork to the family court clerk to get the forms filed and the process started.
Couples that are going through a divorce usually have their child support case handled in family court as part of the divorce process. This makes it easier to get a child support order, especially when the parents can’t agree on the support arrangements.
Child Support Agencies
Keep in mind that the process of getting a child support order may vary from state to state. However, most states have a child support agency that provides services around unpaid child support. These agencies do require a child support order before they can help with non-payment issues, but most will help you get court-ordered child support in order for you to use their services.
How to Check if You Have an Existing Child Support Order
In most states, the parent that is being requested to pay child support must be served a notice of the filing, This means that you should be served with a copy of the support request, either from a Sheriff’s deputy or through certified mail, and you’ll have 30 days from receipt to respond with your answer to the court.
If you think there is a pending child support case against you but you haven’t received the notice yet, you may be able to contact your county clerk’s office to check whether there is a child support case in your name.
Can You Pay Child Support Without a Court Order
If you want to pay child support without a court order, you absolutely can. Most courts agree that both parents are responsible for supporting their child, so it is never wrong to pay child support without a court order.
If you and the other parent can agree to child support terms, including how much to pay and how often, you can most forward without court-ordered support. However, not having a good relationship with the other parent typically makes it more difficult to come to an agreement or make future modifications. Of all the child support cases in the U.S., only 12.9% are done without a court order due to their negotiation difficulty; so, it is better to go with court-ordered child support when possible.
You can pay child support without a court order, but we always recommend going through family court to make sure the process is fair for both parties and most importantly, that the child/children get the support they need.
Get Help With a Child Support Order
If you are dealing with child support issues or need help getting a child support order, the lawyers at Collins Family & Elder Law Group will be happy to take your side. We specialize in child support law and work hard to ensure child support orders are fair, balanced, and put the children first. Contact our lawyers in North or South Carolina to get the child support assistance you need.