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What requirements does a family need to apply for child support?

Reaching child support agreements can be stressful and mentally taxing. We put together short guide covering the documents most commonly requested in these cases.

Reaching child support agreements can be stressful and mentally taxing. Here is short guide covering the documents most commonly requested in these cases.

In the United States parents of children who have gone through a divorce or never married are required, under certain circumstances to pay child support. Typically, agreements between the ‘custodial’ and ‘non-custodial’ parents are made through the family court system. These agreements are not uncommon. In 2022, the Office of Child Support Enforcement within the US Department of Health and Human Services managed around thirteen million cases across the country. The agency found that in 2017 “Among those [parents] who have a child support order, 58% received child support payments [... and] received an average of $5,381.

Custodial parents are those who bear the majority of the expenses for the child as the child is in their custody more time. While the non-custodial parent may spend less time with the child, they may still be required to share in the costs of raising them.

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Requirements for child support

In order to receive child support payments, the custodial parent will need to provide certain documents to the Department of Human Services or the Department of Child Services. These documents tend to vary from state to state and it is best to check with the relevant authority in your area to identify the complete list.

However, in most cases, the agencies will require general information on both parents and the children to whom the agreement relates, which typically the information can be submitted online. Those making a claim should be prepared to present a government-issued ID, proof of address, the birth certificates of the children for who which you are seeking support, and contact and employment information for both parties.

In states where these documents cannot be submitted online, they should be dropped off or sent to the relevant agency.

Other documents you may need

While not all states require the following documentation, a caseworker may ask for it. These include proof of paternity, which could take the form of a DNA test and your proof of income. Both may be needed to establish the legal case for financial compensation.

Additionally, the Social Security numbers of the children and parents may also be requested.

In cases where a parent has stopped paying child support, the agency will often request a record of past payments or agreements that were reached on how much would be paid. In cases of divorce, these documents can be requested as well to provide greater context to the marriage and/or understandings reached at the point of separation.


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