Parents have an obligation to financially and emotionally provide for their children.  This section details the fundamentals of child support, including how its figure is determined, the eligibility, how it’s enforced, how to collect back payments and many other useful pages that can answer you child support questions.

Child Support Defined

photo courtesy Aneta Blaszczyk and sxu

Child Support is a parental obligation to provide emotional, financial and medical support for their child(ren). It commonly refers to the money paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to assist in meeting the continuing needs of the child(ren). It is often one of the most contentious aspect of a custody arrangement and rarely considered fair by one or both parents.

State by State Variation

The nature, interpretation and amount legally varies from state to state, which is one reason why the Children’s Rights Council is developing this website. For the purposes of this section entitled Child Support 101, the reference is made specifically to financial child support, which includes shared medical costs required under federal law. Information about emotional child support, custody, divorce, emancipation, and other related areas can be found here on CRCkids as well.

The Legal Responsibility

Divorce or separation does not end the legal obligation for financial child support. Although the bond of marriage (or other relationship) has been broken, each parent still retains a legal responsibility to provide adequate support for the child(ren). Unless there is a gross misdirection of monies such that the child(ren)’s needs are not being attended, the use of child support funds is at the discretion of the custodial parent and the court will not intervene. So while the paying (non-custodial) parent may not agree with how the funds are being used, it isn't their decision to make. Even if the custodial parent earns more than the non-custodial parent, child support payments will likely have to be made until each child is emancipated.

For an Historical Background,

The determination of financial child support is not usually a complicated process. But, having everyone agree and comply with the order to accept and make continuous child support payments can be a very expensive and lengthy process if there is a lot of parental conflict. Contempt of a court order however, will only cause problems and will solve nothing! Before the processes and procedures of child support are explored, just what is the legal authority to make anyone pay child support and who can legally enforce collection?


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