Parents must financially support their children. That obligation lasts until the child reaches 18 or graduates from high school, or until age 22 if a full time student at an accredited college, whichever is longer, unless the child is disabled. The responsibility to provide support in the form of regular payments generally arises when one parent has primary custody of the child. Either parent may be ordered to pay support depending upon how custody is arranged. An unmarried mother may also file a petition for child support in family court and an order for support will be entered once paternity has been established.
The amount of support is set after the needs of the child and the parent’s income are assessed through the use of specific guidelines. The paying parent must regularly make the ordered payments, normally by payroll deduction. Failure to remain current with child support obligations exposes the paying parent to significant penalties.
Along with the family Court, the office of Child Support Enforcement has the power to:
Once support has been ordered, both parents have the right to request changes if there is a change in the financial situation of the paying parent. Because of the requirements involved in child support, parents can benefit from the advice and involvement of an experienced family law attorney when child support issues arise.