Determining Eligibility & More

Who is Eligible?

Any parent or person with a minor child is eligible to receive financial child support and/or medical support payments to provide for that child.  The person having primary responsibility for and exercising control of the child(ren) is usually a parent but, a caretaker relative, or representative of an agency holding custody of the child(ren) by order of the court may also apply to receive financial child support. 

An 'Order' and Why It Must Be Established

However, to collect support payments, an “order” must be established. 

An order may be a document issued as part of a divorce decree or judgment of paternity from a family law/domestic relations court.  Or it can be ordered by an office of child support enforcement services as part of an administrative process when public assistance is received under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, and Federally assisted Foster Care programs.  In either instance, the order could include an additional liability for retroactive support.  Although a few states (such as Texas) determine custody and child support together, most states generally issue a child support order without first determining child custody and parental access.

Applying for Child Support Through the CSE Office

This is for cases in which the a court order has not been already issued.

If a court order has not already been issued, applying for financial child support through the state or local Child Support Enforcement (CSE) office will often be the most effective and least costly method to receiving payments.  If a Family or Domestic Relations court has made an order for financial child support payments, the identity of the child(ren), the amount to be paid for each child, how frequent the payments will be made, and the acceptable manner of payment will have already been determined. 

The local CSE office will be able to immediately begin the process of collecting and distributing payments.  To find the address and telephone number of the nearest agency visit:

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/extinf.html