Who May Seek Child Support Payments on Behalf of a Child?
An order for child support may be entered in connection with a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, maintenance, or child support. A court considers many factors including the financial resources of the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent. The order can require either parent or both parents to pay child support. Parents are equally responsible for the support of the children. Child support consists of a combination of periodic monetary support, the maintenance of health care insurance for the benefit of children, the payment of educational expenses of children, and the provision of various forms of security for support to protect against the payer’s death, disability, or voluntary nonpayment. One parent can sue another parent in civil court for child support.
Parents have a civil child support obligation based upon a statutory duty imposed in all states and territories. In addition to establishing the rights of parents to sue each other in civil court for child support, the state can assert children’s rights to support through suits under state statutes for the reimbursement of welfare expenditures or by acting on behalf of a custodial parent, who wants help from the state child support enforcement agency. In addition, actual and punitive damages are recoverable against a child support payer and his employer, if the evidence shows that they knowingly and willfully had an agreement to deal in cash so that the payer could avoid paying child support.
Further, the federal and state governments have enacted statutes that impose criminal penalties on parents who fail to support a child. The statutes’ primary objective is to collect unpaid child support. The secondary objective is to punish the offender. The federal acts are the Child Support Recovery Act and the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act.
Upon receipt of a notice that a payer has defaulted in paying child support, the payee can turn to a state’s child support enforcement agency to maintain an action on behalf of the payee to obtain a judgment and execution of the judgment through any available procedure. The agency can also obtain an order for withholding the payer’s personal earnings or the assignment of the payer’s wages. The agency has twenty days to act after receiving the payee’s application for help.
Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.