Understanding Alabama child support is essential if you're a parent going through a divorce and worrying how you'll be able to support your family when the dust settles. You need to know how to apply for child support, how establishment of a child support order works, and how the correct amount is calculated.
On top of that, you may need to find out how to track down the other parent if you're not sure where he or she is living, and how to enforce a child support order on a parent who isn't paying. All this information will be covered for you in this article.
Establishing Alabama Child Support Order
After you file for support, the courts will decide whether or not to establish a court order.
If they do, your ex will be legally bound to pay the required amount – if they fail to pay for a long enough time period, they can be prosecuted.
Be aware that in many cases, child support is established as part of the divorce order. If you haven't yet been through the divorce, you may not even have to worry about filing for child support separately.
If the divorce has already happened, however, and no provisions were made for child support, you'll have to get an order established separately.
The amount of child support is calculated according to a strict set of guidelines the courts use to help ensure payments are fair. The calculation takes into account factors such as each parent's income and the expenses required for children (children with special needs and extra expenses may require bigger payments).
Applying For Alabama Child Support
I found that the state of Alabama will automatically provide child support for those who are currently enrolled for some type of assistance such as T.A.N.F., Medicaid, or Foster Care. If you are receiving assistance from one of these programs, you'll be referred to your local Child Support Office where an appointment will be scheduled for you to meet up with a support officer to fill out a child support application.
If you are not currently receiving federal or state assistance, you can apply for child support by making an appointment with your local DHR office in the state of Alabama. You can call the number for the office near you to request an appointment to apply for child support.
The first step is applying for child support, so let's walk through the process. To apply for Alabama child support, you'll have to fill out some forms and gather together the necessary documents. Documents you'll need include things like proof of income and certain expenses, such as school fees for the children. To apply, you need to get in touch with the County Department of Human Resources. There is sometimes an application fee you'll have to pay when you file for child support, but the maximum is $25 (the amount depends on your income).
It's usually wise to employ the services of a child support attorney to help you with the process, although you can do it by yourself if need be. Child support also doesn't have to be filed by the custodial parent – it can be done by anyone who has legal custody of a child or children.
At your appointment, you will meet with your caseworker and he or she will go over your application with you and inform you if additional information is needed. Applications for child support services are charged a sliding scale fee. Depending upon your income, a fee of five dollars or twenty-five dollars will be needed at the time of the application.
Locating A Non-Custodial Parent
In the event that the non-custodial parent has moved to a new address or left Alabama altogether, there are options available for tracking him or her down. You'll need to gather up as much information about the person's identity as possible – full names, aliases, social security number, date of birth and so on. The more information you can collect, the easier it will be for the authorities to track the other parent down.
Vehicle registration information is also useful for tracking someone down, so if you know any details about the car your ex drives – even just basics like the make and model – that can all help in finding them.
In some cases, you may find the other parent refusing to acknowledge that the child is his. In this case, a paternity test can be carried out. If the test confirms that he is the father, he'll be legally found by any court child support order. However, if the test concludes he is not in fact the father, you won't have further recourse to chase him for support money.
Collecting and Distributing Child Support Payments
How is child support payments in the state of Alabama collected and distributed? The payments are collected and distributed using the (ALECS) system. That would be the Alabama Location Enforcement Collection System. Payments can be received at the Alabama Child Support Payment Center and entered into a computer system. They are then paid out to the payee.
Monthly statements are prepared for non-custodial parents who have not opted to use the income withholding method of payment. If a non-custodial parent has more than one family that qualifies for child payments, the funds will be distributed on a pro rata basis among each family due support.
Child Support Payment Center
Alabama’s Voice Response System provides automated information on payments and distributions for both custodial and non-custodial parents. You will find that it is a twenty-four hour service and is available all through the week. You can also speak with a Hotline operator during the hours of 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM., Monday through Friday. The numbers to call are as follows:
In order to use this system, you will need to ensure that your correct Social Security number is entered into the state’s child support database.
Reviewing Your Child Support Case
Alabama’s Department of Human Resources will periodically review child support orders to ensure that the amount of child support and medical support payments are assigned in accordance with Alabama’s child support guidelines.
However, the department will only review a child support order once every thirty-six months, unless there has been a significant change in the financial or custodial status of either parent (such as the loss of employment or a change in custody from one parent to the other.) You can request a review of your case by submitting a written letter that asks for a review and states why you believe the Alabama child support order should be changed.
If both parents cannot come to an agreement on the status of the order, a judge will make the final decision about child support order modifications.
Of course, in some cases the parent required to pay child support will fail to do so. Sometimes this is due to a genuine temporary financial hardship, and in this case it may be something you can work out by discussing the situation with your ex – but in other scenarios it's the result of a deliberate refusal (or inability) to pay.
If you believe your ex is deliberately withholding support , or he or she has been unable to produce the money over an extended period, you can take action to enforce the payments. You're legally owed all missed payments, and the state can use various methods to force 'deadbeat' parents to pay up until they've fully paid what they owe in arrears. Here you will find more information on Alabama child support payments.
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