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How to File for Child Support


Mother holding baby.
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How Do I File for Child Support?:

Contact your local Office of Child Support Enforcement. They will work with you to establish and enforce a child support order.

What's Involved in Filing for Child Support?:

If you're a single mom, and you were not married to your baby's father, the first thing the OCSE will need to do is establish paternity. In some cases, this may mean tracking down the other parent in order to perform genetic testing.

What if I Don't Know Where the Other Parent Is?:

The OCSE will ask you to provide information regarding the other parent's most recent address. In addition, the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS), a component of the OCSE, will utilize information provided by the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH), State Directories of New Hires (SDNHs), and State Employment Security Agencies (SESAs) to attempt to locate him or her.

Is There a Fee?:

If you currently receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid, you will not be charged a fee. If you don't receive assistance from these agencies, you may be charged a fee of up to $25 to apply for services through the Office of Child Support Enforcement.

How Quickly Can I Expect to Receive Help?:

Initially you will be set up with a case worker who will walk you through the process of establishing paternity, obtaining a legal child support order, and eventually receiving the actual child support. This is usually a lengthy process, as there are many separate agencies involved.

Does This Mean That the Other Parent Will Be Granted Visitation Rights?:

Filing for child support does open the door to potential visitation, since acknowledging paternity is part of the process. However, visitation and child support are separate issues in the eyes of the court. If, upon being recognized as the child's biological parent, the non-custodial parent wishes to exercise his or her right to visitation, he/she should petition the court so that visits can be established.
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