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Eligibility for Child Support

Eligibility for Child Support

As a parent, you are legally obliged to take care of your child’s financial needs. If you are the custodial parent of your child (obligee), you may be entitled to child support payments from your child’s other parent (obligor) but if you are not living with your child, you’d be required to pay child’s support to the other parent.

Simply having your child under your custody does not qualify you for child’s support. There are few things that need to be considered as well.

Are there cases when child support may not be claimed?

Yes, the issue of child support doesn’t come in any of these two circumstances:

  • When the custodial parent relinquishes the right to child support payments and;
  • When a parental right of a parent has been legally annulled.

Determination of your eligibility for child support

The law guiding eligibility for child support varies from state to state. The amount is basically determined by a judge in family court unless both parents mutually arrive at a consensus amount.

Child support payment solely revolves around who has the custody of the child and who has not.

A parent who has total custody of the child may be a stay-at-home dad or mum. In that case, he or she hasn’t got enough funds to take care of the child’s need.

It could also happen that the custodial parent only takes up part-time employment to have more time to take care of the child’s need. Child’s support is, thus, structured and calculated in a way that reflects this reality and needs.

Different cases of child support

1. Sole custody of a child

To be able to get child support, your child must be under your custody. This makes you the custodial parent. Your child would basically live with you. You’d be the one responsible for the child’s day to daycare and needs.

Who becomes the custodial parent?

A single parent singularly taking care of a child is usually the custodial parent. However, in cases of child custody dispute and divorce, the court determines who would become the custodial parent of the child.

2. Joint custody of a child

A child is in joint custody of both parents if he or she spends equal time with both parents successively.  In cases like this, you may still be eligible for child support. This usually happens if the wages of both parents vary significantly.

For instance, if you and your husband annuls your marriage and mutually decide on joint custody of your child, the parent who was unemployed and stayed at home to care for the child when you were married would be eligible for child support while the other parent, whether the mother or the father, pays child support.

Determining the child support payment amount in joint custody scenario is more complex. However, the two factors below helps to arrive at a payment option.

The amount of money each parent put into their joint account. The parent who contributes more money to the joint account pays more for child’s support. It invariably means a parent who earns more pays a higher amount of child support than the other parent.

The second factor that determines the child support amount is that amount of time each of the parents spends physically with the child.

If your child is in your custody say 80 percent of the time and in the custody of the other parent 20 percent of the time, the parent who has only 20 percent custody of the child would be required to pay more child support. The amount to be paid is not fixed but depends on each circumstance.

Further legal practical considerations

You are already a custodial parent, yes, but unless the following factors are the case, you may not be able to receive child support.

  • You must know the contact, home or work address of the other parent. You couldn’t get payment if you don’t have this basic information. However, your state’s child support services agency may offer you free assistance to locate him or her.
  • You must establish the legal paternity of the child if it is an issue
  • You must have obtained child support order from a family court or your state’s child support services agency.

Child support in unmarried parent’s situation

You may still be eligible for child support if you are previously unmarried. Determination of child’s support, in this case, is more convoluted. Among the factors that determine child support payment are; the time your child stays in the physical custody of each parent, the income of the custodial parent, the income of the other parent, the amount of time your child spends in your custody.

Non-custodial parents always pay child support under legal obligation. Stepparents are not legally bound to pay child support for their stepchildren, except in cases where the biological parent’s right is annulled and they adopt the child.


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