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Child Support

At Lawyer Legion we created a directory of family law attorneys focused on representing women and men in child support cases. Search for the attorney by state, city, or zip code. The profiles of these attorneys focused on child support cases have information on the attorney's membership and leadership in legal organizations related to family law, speaking engagements at quality CLE seminars, and participation in specialty certification programs.

During the course of a divorce action involving children, the parties will reach agreement or the court will decide the proper amount of child support is to be paid. The law of child support is governed by state law. Each state has their own statutory provisions addressing the issue of financial support for children.  The term child support involves more than the concept of a monthly payment.

Child support laws can also impact the expenses each parent must pay on behalf of the child include the child’s health insurance, medical bills, medication expenses, clothing allowance, educational expenses, payments for extra-curricular and after school activities, and the cost for music lessons, class trips and even little league participation.

How is Child Support Calculated?

Each state has its own calculation and guidelines for how much support is due for each minor child. Each of the states use a means or measured, sliding-scale calculation which is dependent on the mutual parent’s wages. The formula ordinarily combine the two spouse’s income and calculates what percentage each spouse is of the whole.

The court would then, using the state guidelines, calculate the amount of support due. As a component of support, the court may require the non-custodial parent to provide or continue to provide health care coverage for the minor child. The court may require that the non-custodial parent provide a policy of life insurance to secure the payment of support.

How is child support collected?

All 50 states have a central depository system where funds are collected from non-custodial parents and timely distributed to the custodial parents. Because the clerk of the court charges an administrative fee, many parties agree to pay ‘outside’ or ‘direct’ which is permitted if there is no delinquency.

Although not recommended, some parties pay child support with direct cash payments. Many agree to have the support electronically drafted from a paycheck or a personal bank account. This electronic payment method provides a good record of payments for future reference. In a support dispute, the party who alleges that they paid or not paid the support obligation has the burden of proof in proving such payment or non-payment.

Paternity Must be Established for a Father to Owe Child Support

The obligation to pay support is not a function of marriage. The parties do not have to be married for a child support obligation to exist. The obligation to pay child support can be court ordered once paternity has been established. If paternity is challenged, the court will order a blood test and the result of the blood test will dictate if future child support is due. A parent who adopts a child is liable for child support as if the child was a biological child.

How long does child support have to be paid?

In most states, child support is due until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. Parties are free to agree to additional child support above the court ordered support. Some parties voluntarily agree to pay support until the completion of a college degree. In certain situations where a child becomes disabled, depending on the severity of the disability, the obligation to pay child support may continue beyond the age of majority.

Hiring a Lawyer for a Child Support Matter

Lawyers who focus on representing men and women in child support cases are often called "matrimonial lawyers" or "family law attorneys."

The skills typically utilized by a lawyer who focuses in family law and child support issues are general trial practice, the rules of evidence, insurance law and contract law. Most child support disputes are resolved through a negotiated settlement or a formal mediation. Lawyers who practice in the field of family law and litigate child support and related matters must have strong negotiating skills. Lawyers who practice in this field appear before judges and magistrates in state courts.

Board Certification Programs Related to Child Support Cases

Many states have certifications in Family and Matrimonial law which includes disputes and representation in child support matters. To qualify for this certification, applicants must dedicate a certain percentage of their practice to family and matrimonial law, have a certain number of trials in family law cases, and pass a written examination testing their knowledge in this specialized area of the law. Additionally, the board certification programs in many states require peer review and professional references.

The purpose of the state bar standards in establishing certifications in specialties such as family or matrimonial trial law is to educate the public that certain lawyers have demonstrated an advanced proficiency and have special knowledge in the field of a specific certification. This certification distinguishes the lawyer as having an advanced level of experience and expertise.

Finding the Attorney for a Child Support Case

When choosing an attorney for a child support case, consider whether the attorney devotes a signification portion of his or her practice to this area of the law. At Lawyer Legion we created our directory of family law attorneys to help the public find a qualified attorney in a variety of practice areas including child support cases. We rank attorneys according to the focus of their legal practice, their membership and leadership in organizations related to family law, and other objective criteria.