By Mike Stetzer
Child support is the legal response to the idea that both parents should be responsible for each child, even if the spouses divorce. This area of law attempts to make sure that each child has support from both parents, at least financial support.
If you have questions about your rights under child support laws, you're not alone. An attorney might be able to help you figure out what your rights are and how best to protect them. If you'd like to talk an attorney, just fill out the short form below.
When you do research about child support, it is important to understand that each state creates its own child support guidelines. What is true in California, may not necessarily be true in Illinois or New York. It's also important to determine which state's laws apply to you, if you and your spouse live in different states or have relocated since your divorce.
That being said, there are some generalities about child support that apply in most states.
Typically, unless the child has special needs, child support is only due until the child reaches legal adulthood, typically 18 years old. However, in some states one or both parents may be ordered to contribute to college expenses.
Although the process for securing child support may be different, a child is generally entitled to support regardless of whether or not his parents were married. The support is for the child and not the mother or father, and generally cannot be waived by the custodial parent.
If you have been awarded child support, but the father or mother is not paying you, various legal remedies may be available. The court has the power to garnish wages, hold the non-paying party in contempt and even jail a parent who refuses to pay child support.
Finally, there is a common misconception that people have between the relation between child support and child visitation. Each parent is obligated to comply with the court's order, regardless of the other party's compliance, unless the order is clearly conditional. Do not assume that because your spouse has not paid child support, you can deny visitation - or that you don't have to pay child support if visitation is withheld. Speak with your divorce attorney about your options.