If you are a single parent struggling to get by in today’s economy, you may be asking yourself if you are entitled to receive child support payments from your child’s other parent. If so, there are some initial considerations that can determine whether or not you are eligible to start filing child support and receive child support payments.
Are you the custodial parent?
To be considered the custodial parent, you do not necessarily need to have sole custody of the child or children in question. In fact, as long as you have the children for more than 50 percent of the time, you can be considered the custodial parent in the eyes of the law. In these "joint child support custody" situations, one parent is usually still responsible for paying child support to the other. If the child spends the majority of his or her time with you, you are likely eligible to receive parent child support. Still, just because you are entitled and eligible to receive child support payments does not necessarily mean that you will actually see any money. There are several other factors that can determine whether or not you get a monthly check aftinf filling out the child support forms.
Do you know where the other parent is?
It seems like a fairly basic question, but many single parents do not know where the other parent of the child is. It is nearly impossible to get a court order for child support if you do not know where to send the bill. However, not all hope is lost if you don’t know the location of your child’s mother or father. In fact, you might even be entitled to free assistance locating the other parent through your state’s child support services department. The level of resources these departments vary from state to state, but it is definitely worth looking into.
Has legal paternity been established?
If the father’s name is not listed on the child’s birth certificate (or even if it is, in some cases), you have to establish paternity. This can be done through a simple DNA test. These days, you don’t even need to supply a blood sample; it can all be done through a quick and painless cheek swab of both the child support child and the father. It is not likely that you will get child support payments from the father if the paternity is still in question.
Do you have a court order for child support?
The only way to really ensure that the child support payments you are owed find their way to you and your child is to get child support papers from a judge. With this order, if the father still refuses to pay his share you have the following options:
- Having him held in contempt of court
- Getting his income withheld
- Intercepting any tax refunds or lottery winnings
- Having his professional or driver’s license suspended
- Pursuing liens and judgments
- Filing felony criminal charges
None of these avenues are available to you without a court order from a judge in place. Moreover, with the court order you can utilize your state’s child support enforcement agency. They will be much more likely (and required) to help you find the location of the father if you do not know where he is. The people working in that department will also walk you through the process of obtaining the child support recovery that is due, which can be an invaluable asset to have on your side.