The Basics of Child Support

What is Child Support?

Child support is a payment by one parent (often the "non-custodial parent") to the other parent for the support of their common child. (See Child Support and Visitation.) 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.

What is a Child Support Order?

A Child Support Order is a document from a court that states (a) when, (b) how often, and (c) how much a parent is to pay for child support. A Child Support Order is typically part of a divorce decree or paternity judgment.

Who Can Be Ordered to Pay It?

A court can order either parent of a child to pay support to other parent. The court order for support is usually payable on a monthly basis. Many states now require that child support be paid by wage assignment (automatic deductions from the paycheck) whenever available, thus reducing the need for subsequent enforcement actions.

Obligor and Obligee -- Which One is Which?

The obligor is the parent that is required to pay the child support to the other parent. The obligee (obliged) is the parent who receives the payment from the other parent.

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