What is ‘Child Support’?
Child support is a benefit that all children deserve, both morally and legally. Since children do not ask to be born, nor have any control over whether they enter into this world, it is only fair and right that they should be properly cared for until they are able to reasonably support themselves.
Child support is money that a parent who is absent is ordered to pay regularly in order to support the raising of his child. Sometimes the parents who should receive the support, do not, for various reasons, including the inability or refusal of the payer to pay over the funds. Child support resources are available for mothers, who are usually the ones needing to receive those funds, to assist in the care of their children.
Do also check out our How To Easily Apply for Child Support article if you want to know how to apply for it.
The Big Question: Who Pays for Child Support?
Fathers are usually the responsible parents where providing child support is concerned. This can vary from country to country of course, but in North America (and Europe), the father is usually the one on the line for child support. Now in cases where the mother is the major breadwinner of the household, there may be exceptions, but typically in most cases, the the legal system favors the mother when it comes to deciding who will pay child support. But exceptions remain (see the paragraph below).
It is irrelevant whether the father is married to the mother of the child or not, as long as he acknowledges paternity of the child, voluntarily or forcibly. Some fathers sign a voluntary declaration admitting paternity when the child is born, or shortly afterwards. Others are forced to admit parentage after a lawsuit has been filed and genetic testing has been done which confirms paternity.
Blood tests are done and used to disclaim paternity with an accuracy of 100 percent, or confirm paternity with 99.99 percent accuracy. These become necessary when welfare officials who give Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) to mothers, need to obtain reimbursement from the fathers, according to the law. Cooperation of the mother in these matters is necessary if she is to retain her TANF grant.
Child support is not, however, limited to payment by fathers. If the father has custody of the child or children, as happens in a few cases, the mother is obligated to support her children. The child support duty is therefore not gender specific. Parents are responsible for supporting their eligible children. Eligibility applies when –
- The child is below the age of majority
- The child has reached the age of majority but has a special need, or is in college
- The child is not on active military duty
- The child has not been declared emancipated by a court of law, as when the child marries or obtains a job.
Here are the 5 types of father child support cases you will encounter. Your child support situation will likely fall under one of these:
1. Acknowledged Fathers
Acknowledged fathers are required to pay child support. An acknowledged father is the biological father of a child, but who is not married to the child’s mother. An admission by the father, or the agreement of both parents, is enough to establish paternity.
2. Presumed Fathers
Presumed fathers must also pay to support their children. Courts presume that a man is the father of a child if –
- He was married to the mother at the time of conception or birth of the child. Separation of the parents is not recognized by some States, however.
- He attempted to marry the mother, and conception occurred during the attempt, even if the marriage was not a valid one.
- He married the mother after the child’s birth and he agreed to register his name on the birth certificate, or provide support for the child.
- He welcomed and accepted the child into his home, and openly treated the child as his own.
3. Equitable Parents
Equitable parents, who have been granted custody or visitation rights by courts, must also pay child support. An equitable parent does not have to be the legal biological or adoptive parent to be awarded custody or visitation rights. As long as courts are convinced that the parent and child have a close relationship and consider themselves as parent and child, the status will apply. The status also applies if the relationship is encouraged by the biological parent.
4. Alleged Fathers
Alleged or unwed fathers are unmarried men who impregnate women. They can either acknowledge that they are the fathers, or have a court determine that they are. In either case they are liable to pay child support, and earn the right to visitation and even custody of the children.
A stepfather is not the biological father of the children of his spouse who is the legal mother of those children. Even if he is married to the children’s mother, he is under no obligation to support those children unless he legally adopts them.
Tricks Fathers Do to Avoid Child Support
Men can be tricky at the best of times, and fathers trying to avoid paying child support even more so! Here are some common “techniques” used to dodge child support payments.
One trick in dodging the payment of child support is switching jobs or appearing to do so. One divorced father transferred between divisions within a company, but convinced his boss to say that he had been fired, in an effort to stop making the payments. This form of deception attracts large penalties for employers who are caught. See: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/question-how-do-i-get-child-28399.html.
Filing for Bankruptcy
Another trick in attempting to dodge paying child support is filing for bankruptcy. This usually means that the person filing is not obligated to honor his debts. Fortunately for children, this does not apply to child support. This debt is considered a ‘priority debt’ and therefore survives bankruptcy because of its importance. See: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/question-child-support-bankruptcy-28095.html.
Child Support Resources for Moms
As mentioned before, child support is usually sought by mothers and required to be paid by fathers. All States offer child support services. There are agencies that are responsible for collecting the support payments ordered by courts. Some fathers, however, try to dodge the system through trickery and deception.
Division of Child Support
The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) operates a Division of Child Support (DCS) which aims to provide effective child support services, in an effort to prevent or dismantle the cycle of poverty (see: http://www.dshs.wa.gov/dcs/Services/#t1)
The DCS offers the following services:
- Establishment of administrative support orders – this may be done if:
- There is none established in any jurisdiction,
- The court order does not set a fixed amount for support, but the amount can be determined.
- Full enforcement or collection services – relating to current as well as back support under a valid support order.
- Locate services – even uses the assistance of other states to find non-custodial parents.
- Medical enforcement – through an obligated parent’s medical insurance provided by his employer or union.
- Establishment of paternity – for children under 18 years of age.
- Payment processing services only – for current payments to the Washington State Support Registry.
- Electronic funds transfer or electronic data interchange for employers – to facilitate ease of compliance. http://www.dshs.wa.gov/dcs/employers/Employers3.asp.
- Electronic funds transfer for parents – through DCS’ Internet Payment Service for ease of payment. http://www.dshs.wa.gov/dcs/pay.asp.
- Post-secondary educational support – for students with a good academic record in a regular program of study.
- Tribal support services – to facilitate relationships with Indian tribes.
Eligibility for Support
All families who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Children, or Medicaid, are automatically eligible to access the services of DCS (see:http://www.dshs.wa.gov/dcs/Services/#t1) . The eligible parent must not be receiving support from any other state, and any one of the following conditions applies to him:
- A parent who has custody of a minor child,
- A lawful custodian of a minor child,
- A former custodian who is owed child support accrued under a support order,
- The father of the child and wishes to establish the paternity of his child,
- The non-custodial parent of a child and wants to pay child support,
- He is due court-ordered post-secondary educational support for a child in school.
The Child Support Web
This web site offers information and resources about child support, including –
- How calculations for child support are carried out.
- How parents can go about collecting child support.
- How parents can source good child support attorneys.
- How parents can enlist the government’s assistance in collecting child support.
- How parents can find laws relating to child support.
Child Support Network (CSN)
The CSN is a service company that specializes in finding missing parents and collecting the child support that the courts have ordered to be paid. They are members of the Single Parents Association and the American Collectors Association.
National Child Support
This agency boasts of having the leading experts in the nation, where helping parents to collect child support from delinquent payers is concerned. They specialize in –
- Getting the payment procedure started, and
- Keeping the payments coming regularly.
Support Collectors is a private agency dedicated to child support enforcement and collection, and offers its services to parents across the nation. Support Collectors –
- Offer individualized attention for best results
- Do not charge a fee until parents collect child support
- Help parents to obtain copies of their child support orders, if necessary
- Specialize in locating missing or evasive parents.
With more than 175 professionals dedicated to child support services, Supportkids is said to be the leading private child support collection agency in the nation. They –
- Have state-of-the-art information systems
- Make contact with payers by phone
- Have smaller caseloads for better results
- Have reduced fees after collection of the first full child support payment.
Child Support Enforcement (CSE)
The child support enforcement program is run by all States and territories, and help to promote the self-sufficiency of families and the well being of children. Their services include –
- Locating non-custodial parents – through the use of highly computerized systems, and can also determine parents’ income and assets.
- Establishing paternity – by identification of the child’s legal father, which can provide the child with:
- Access to Social Security, pension, and retirement benefits,
- Medical insurance and health information, and
- Important interactions and improved relationships with both parents.
- Establishing support orders – in order to determine the amount to be paid for child support.
- Collecting support payments – by withholding income, selling property, etc.
- Services for non-custodial parents – including support order reviews and the locating of hidden children in violation of a visitation or custody order.