Children are entitled to financial and welfare
support from both parents regardless of the future
relationship between those parents. This is
the basic premise behind child support.
After divorce of the parents, usually one parent is
awarded custody of the couple's children by the court.
Recognizing that there are costs associated with
raising a child, the non-custody parent is ordered by
the court to make regular payments for child support
to the parent with custody.
The amount of this support is one of the most
contentious aspects of divorce proceedings.
Litigation and compliance over child support payments
can be ongoing for years after a divorce. The
parent paying the support may be unwilling or unable
to make the regular support payments or financial
requirements for a child's welfare may change over
time prompting one of the parents to seek court
revision of the support payment.
Child support and alimony are handled as distinct
and different payments by the court. Alimony is
an amount ordered by the court for one parent to pay
the other (either in a one time payment, continuing
payments or both) for his or her share of the marriage
assets and income. It is unrelated to the amount
the court will award for child support.
Due to the difficulty of many custodial parents to
collect court ordered child support payments from the
other parent, some States have enacted legislation
providing for steep penalties including jail time for
the non-payment of support payments.
Organizations and websites have also sprung up to aid
in the locating and the forcing of payment compliance
of deadbeat parents who, in some cases, owe tens of
thousands of dollars in unpaid child support.