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Child support is the money that one parent pays the other to support the child they have together.  Usually someone tries to get child support if they are not living with the other parent of their child. Sometimes parents make arrangements to share costs without going to court and getting a child support order.  Sometimes they want an order.

You can get a child support order by going to court and starting a child-support case. You can do this on your own or with your local child support agency (LCSA).  The LCSA can help you find your child’s other parent if they’re missing, ask the court to order the other parent to pay monthly support, help you collect child support money and make sure your child support order is obeyed.  The LCSA does this for free.

After you file a case, the court will decide how much child support you can get.  The amount of child support you can get depends on each parent’s income, whether each parent is paying for child care or health insurance, and how much time the child spends with each parent.

The court does not always order the other parent to pay child support.  For example, if the other parent is younger than 18, the court may wait for the parent to finish high school before ordering them to pay support. However, you don’t have to wait until the other parent turns 18 before you can ask for child support. In fact, if you need child support, it’s better to start your case sooner rather than later, since cases can take some time to get started.

Having a court order can be very helpful. If the other parent does not pay the child support they owe you, you can use a court order to prove that the other parent owes you money, and the court can use it to require the parent to pay you that money. If the other parent refuses to pay child support, the court may order the support to be taken automatically from their paycheck or bank account. There may also be penalties if the parent doesn’t pay.

Whether to ask for a child support order is a personal and important decision. Sometimes, there are reasons not to seek out a child support order.  It can really help to talk it through with a lawyer to find out the pros and cons and get your questions answered.  You can find legal resources on our website.  You also can find out how to contact your local LCSA.

You can learn more about child support and find answers to specific questions by visiting our Child Support section in the Youth Legal Guide here.

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