The court usually orders the “non-custodial” parent to pay a certain portion of his or her income to the custodial parent as support for the child. Many people wrongly believe this is an order entitling the custodial parent to additional money. In fact, the legal right to child support is actually possessed by the child for his or her proper care and upbringing, regardless of whomever receives the child support payment.
State child support enforcement agencies are taking an assertive role in seeking payment from non-custodial parents. In most cases, the state agency and the family court will work together to enact a child support withholding order. This order enables child support payments to be automatically deducted from the payer's paycheck. Should child support payments stop or become overdue, the child support agency can seek to withhold support amounts from tax refunds or seize real estate and/or personal property. In addition to forced withholding, criminal penalties can result from failure to pay child support.
Child support orders are issued by the family court or the Division of Child Support Enforcement and are determined by specific child support guidelines. The guidelines help determine the amount of support that must be paid based on both parents' income, the number of children, expenses incurred as a result of job-related childcare and providing insurance for the children and the number of overnight visits the non-custodial parent receives.