Child support is a court-ordered payment that a parent makes to help cover the costs of raising their children. These payments support the financial stability of families and children through ongoing periodic payments. It is a legal obligation that ensures children receive the financial support they need from both parents, typically when the parents are no longer together. There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to child support. It is important to understand these guidelines to fulfill your legal obligations, and provide as best you can for your child.
Make your child support payments on time. This is perhaps the most imperative rule of child support. Missing payments can have serious consequences. After 20 days, the government has a right to keep possession of property belonging to you, such as your car, until your debt is paid. Your wages, tax returns, lawsuit settlements, and any other funds you are entitled to can also be garnished to fulfill payments owed to the other parent should you fall behind.
Keep records of your payments. It is a good idea to keep records of all of your child support payments including receipts, bank statements, and checks. These items are held as proof that you have made your payments on time, if necessary.
Communicate with your co-parent. If you are struggling to make your child support payments on time, it is important to communicate with the other parent and agree on a payment plan that works for both parties.
Get a court order. In order to establish payments, you must have a child support order signed by a judge and filed with a court clerk’s office. If the other parent is not complying with the child support order, this is a legally binding way to enforce it.
Ignore or stop paying the child support order. If you want to stop paying child support, you must obtain a court order to do so. Simply stopping or not making your payments without a court order can have serious consequences including fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges.
Withhold child support as a way to punish the other parent. Child support is not intended as a way to punish the other parent, but rather as a way to provide financial support for your child. While withholding payments won’t cause you to lose parental rights, it will directly negatively impact your child. It can also end up costing you more in the end. If you are found in contempt of court for nonpayment, a judge can order you to pay arrearages, court fees, and may hold you responsible for the other parent’s attorney fees. It is important to separate your emotions from your legal obligations to child support. Your child is entitled to financial support regardless of your feelings towards the other parent.
It is necessary to fulfill your legal obligations to child support and provide for your child. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your child receives the financial support they deserve. To speak with a knowledgeable lawyer and assist with a child support case, call the Office of Joseph Cerino at (239) 561-2820.