Are you a noncustodial parent? If so, you play a very important role in your child’s life. In order to improve your chances of a successful experience in the family courts, you want to be fully informed of your rights and responsibilities in regards to child support until your child turns eighteen or graduates high school, whichever occurs later.
As a noncustodial parent, here is a breakdown of what you need to know about child support:
- If you receive a court summons in the mail, it is important that you attend the scheduled court appearance. If you fail to show, the family court can make decisions about paternity and child support in your absence.
- Do not sign any legal documents until you understand the legal consequences of signing. Once you sign a legal document and it is filed, it can be very difficult to change – sometimes it is impossible.
- If you open a child support case with the Office of Attorney General (OAG), it may help protect your rights. The court can issue orders that address child custody and visitation, and the amount of child support that you must pay the other parent each month.
- If you or your child’s other parent decides to open a child support case with the OAG, and the OAG finds it necessary to order a DNA test to confirm paternity, the test is usually free of charge.
- If you are concerned that an unrealistic amount of child support will be imposed, the best solution is to provide the court with as much information about your current financial situation.
- If you are not able to pay the full amount of child support one month, pay what you can. By making a partial payment, you show the court that you are trying. To go a step further, contact the child support office that handles your case and explain your circumstances.
- If you lose your job or your income is reduced significantly, you may be best served by asking the court to review your case and consider a downward modification.
- If your child moves in with you, petition the court to change your status to the custodial parent. Bear in mind that you must continue paying child support until the court says you no longer need to.