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Child Support

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Family Law - Child Support

Child support is the legal right of a child to receive financial support from his or her parents. That right continues until the child turns 19 years old. If the child is still dependent at age 19 or older - owing to illness or disability, or because the child is still in school, for example - then the right to financial support will continue. Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court will typically hear child support cases when there is no divorce pending. The Circuit Court will typically hear child support issues in conjunction with a divorce.

Child support is the amount of money a parent is required by law to pay to the spouse who retains primary custody of the child. Child support is intended for the benefit of the child, and usually pays for:

  • Food, shelter, and clothing.
  • Health and medical care
  • Educational expenditures

Parents have a legal responsibility to financially support their children, whether they live together or not. This includes:

  • Parents who are in the process of separating or divorcing
  • Parents who have already separated or divorced, and who have a current child support order or agreement.
  • Parents that have never lived together, but need to make decisions about who will pay financial support.

All fathers and mothers can be required to pay child support, regardless of whether they are married or not. Stepparents are not obligated by law to pay child support unless the stepparent legally adopts the children.

How Courts Determine the Amount of Child Support

Courts generally require each parent to complete a financial statement before making a decision on child support. In the financial statement, the parent must detail his or her monthly income and expenses. Based on the financial information and the amount of time each parent spends with the child, the Court uses a standard formula to determine the child support amount.

It is in the best interest of a child for both parents to be obligated to pay for the support of their child. An order for child support transfers the income/wealth from one parent to the other so that the combined incomes/wealth of both parents is available to use for the support of the child.

How Long Must Child Support be Paid?

Free legal information for child support law @ duration of this responsibility depends upon state law. All states require both parents to be financially responsible for their child during the child's minority, generally through the child's high school years. A few states have extended the time for financial responsibility beyond the minority of the child. Child support can be terminated in the event of the death of the child, if the child goes on active duty in the armed forces, or if the child becomes emancipated or self-supporting.

If you are in need of legal advice or services, or simply wish to speak to an attorney who has successfully handled a Child Support case in your state, you may use this Free Online Consultation Form.

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