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What is child support and how can I request it?

Custodial parents receive a monthly payment to cover the cost of child upbringing from the non-custodial parent. How can you claim the support?

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Every year millions of custodial single parents across the United States claims child support payments from the child’s other parent, helping to cover the cost of bringing up children.

Child support is a monthly payment, defined by a court, which the non-custodial parent is legally required to pay to the custodial parent. The term ‘custodial parent’ refers to the parent who cares for the child on the more regular basis and who therefore faces the related costs.

The payments are designed to cover the cost of daily necessities, such as food, clothing, housing and medical bills. Of course, the exact situation and financial commitments are different in each parenting relationship, meaning that the child support payments are decided on a case-by-case basis.

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How to get help with child support claims

Child support claims are organised on a state level and so are subject to the laws and requirements set down by each individual state. To get more information on how child support claims are conducted where you live, follow these steps:

  1. Contact your state or tribal child support agency
  2. Gather documents you’ll need to present with your application
  3. Complete an application from your state

If you are still unsure how to proceed, you can also receive guidance on a federal level by checking out the recommendation from the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE).

Typically state and local governments are the ones who deal with issues like non-payment. If you are experiencing problems with receiving payments from a non-custodial parent then you should pursue the case in the state where the child support case is active.

What is the average child support payment?

A report re-published in 2020 entitled Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2015 found that there were 13.6 million custodial single parents living in the United States. In 12.1% of cases the parents work on the basis of an informal support agreement, however the remaining 87.9% are formal agreements established in court or through a Title IV-D agency.

As mentioned the amount that a custodial parent receives is based on the exact situation and financial means of all involved, but the 2015 report was able to outline the typical payment size. It found that the average amount of child support due was $5,760 per year, equating to less than $500 per month.

However in actuality only around 60% of the money due was actually paid, giving an average of $3,447 per year. This works out at just $287 per month. Unfortunately, 21.7% of custodial parents reported having to request government assistance to aid the collection of child support.