Child Support Agency Tips
If you're the non-custodial parent, you'll be making payments to your local child support enforcement agency, and they will be the ones chasing you up if you fall behind on payments. On the other hand, if you're the custodial parent you will be collecting payments from your child support enforcement agency, and they are the people you should turn to if the non-custodial parent disappears or falls behind on payments.
Child support agencies go by different names depending on where you are in the world – 'Child Support Agency' is the term used in Britain and Australia, for example, but in the US most states have their own Department of Human Services which handles child support-related issues.
Finding your local child support agency is not too difficult – you should learn most of the details during court proceedings when the decision on child support payments is made. If you're unsure, simply do a web search for 'child support agency' or 'department of human services' and the name of your state. Once you find the appropriate website you'll easily be able to find contact details and the location of the nearest branch.
What The Agency Does
The main role of the agency is to track and facilitate child support payments. Many people imagine child support will be paid directly to them by the non-custodial parent, but this is not the case. All payments are processed through the agency, which acts as a 'middleman' between the two parents. This helps ensure payments are made in full and on time, and ensures there is a record in case there's a dispute over child support.
If you're a non-custodial parent, try to maintain a good relationship with the agency by staying up to date with child support payments. If you fall behind on payments, they will be less likely to be sympathetic in the event of a dispute between you and the custodial parent. If you really fall behind on payments, they may start actively pursuing you for child support owed in arrears. If you're anticipating financial hardship that may prevent you from meeting your child support obligations, your best option is to contact the agency early and let them know, rather than allowing yourself to fall behind and get into trouble. Contacting the custodial parent to let them know about your financial difficulties as early as possible is also a good policy.
Tips for Dealing with the Agency
In some cases, dealing with child support enforcement can be quite a nightmarish experience for a non-custodial parent. Unfortunately some child support enforcement workers take a very negative attitude towards non-custodial parents in general, so if you find yourself dealing with an employee who has an axe to grind, it pays to know how to protect yourself.
First of all – if you're being asked to perform actions or pay money that were not covered in the initial child support order, you have a right to be suspicious. If in doubt, contact a lawyer. Child support enforcement can be pushy, but if what they're asking for sounds wrong it may be a legitimate mistake. Don't simply agree to something because it comes down from the child support authority – if what they're asking of you sounds wrong or unreasonable, stand your ground and get a lawyer.
Your child support enforcement agency can also be tough to deal with as a custodial parent. If you feel they aren't doing enough to track down a missing non-custodial parent or aren't being aggressive enough at pursuing arrears payments, again, your best option is to consult a lawyer and figure out the best course of action.
Child Support Kids -An organization which helps with child support