Many of us single-parents have found ourselves in the position of having to file for child support. And yes, thank you for asking, it is as miserable as it sounds. In a perfect world you, first and foremost, wouldn’t be a single parent and you also wouldn’t have to go fight over money that is for the soul purpose of raising your child. However, as you’ve likely figured out, this is not a perfect world by any means. Shit happens, and there is a little one to think about. To the best of my abilities, I want to provide you the “Filing For Child Support For Dummies” version of how to go about doing this, and really what to expect after you’ve initially done it.
1. You Can File Online
You do not have to go to your local social service center to file for child support. Most states provide websites where you can fill out the paper work to begin a support order against your ex. There is a lot of information to provide, and the more you know about the ex the better, and the more you can provide about your situation, the better.
2. There’s More Paperwork After Your Paperwork
After the initial filing, you will be contacted by a county caseworker who will get basic information from you. You’ll then receive a packet in the mail where you’ll attempt to provide your financial information to the best of your abilities. Provide paycheck stubs, tax information, any sort of previous payments from your ex, etc. It’s best to be as thorough as possible so that you can attempt to receive a fair amount to support your child.
3. It’s Going To Take A While To Process
I filed my paper work in May, and my son’s father wasn’t actually served the court order until August. The biggest factor the the lag in time was the fact that he lived in another county. This is definitely something to consider, especially if the parent lives out of state. The other parent is served with a proposed child support amount, which they can either agree to, or dispute. If it is disputed, then you will have to go to court.
4. So You’re Going To Court
Court is the worst, I’ll just let you know now. It’s nerve wracking, and disorienting. You’ll likely be in a public court where you’ll see other cases go ahead of you, and more often than not you’ll see some pretty terrible child support and custody cases. Trust me, it’ll make you feel like a better parent. It is imperative to be as prepared and non-confrontational with the judge and the provided child support attorney, as possible. Only speak when spoken to, and honestly I’d advise taking notes beforehand in regards to points you want to make, so that when it’s your turn to speak, you’ll be able to be direct about your child’s and your own financial needs.
5. Don’t Expect The Money Quickly… or At All
This is the ugly truth about filing for child support. Once the court has determined an amount that you and the other parent have agreed upon, usually to their chagrin, it takes a while for any money to actually be seen. And unfortunately, you might not see any at all. The system is slow,that is the cold, hard truth. Most of you are probably in my position, and cannot afford private lawyers or mediators, or someone to advocate for you and your child. You are unfortunately at the mercy of the state and your ex’s inability to make their payments. The money they owe you does accrue, and as time goes on they will face legal consequences. Unfortunately this still usually doesn’t benefit yourself or your child. Attempt to remain in contact with your case worker, and devise a plan that doesn’t require you to rely on someone else’s money.