Questions about Child Support Payments

Many divorced parents with minor children have questions about child support payments, such as when payments will start, who is eligible to receive the payments, and more. To help you understand your situation, below are answers to some of the most common questions we have received regarding child support payments.

Related FAQs:

When does child support start?

Cheryl's Question: If a non-custodial parent has to go to court for his preliminary hearing on child support, will he have to make a child support payment then?

Brette's Answer: No child support is due until an order is entered. It then generally becomes due the next week or next month (depending on whether it is being paid weekly or monthly).

Should I take my ex to court if payments started a month late?

Jeanne's Question: My settlement papers in an uncontested divorce stated that child support would begin on the 1st of the month (no specific month was stated). My lawyer says that since these papers were signed in February, child support should begin as of March. My divorce was not final until April. I was never able to collect the child support for March. Do I have a case? My lawyer tells me just to forget about it.

Brette's Answer: The amount you would spend paying your lawyer to litigate that would probably exceed the amount you are owed.

Is child support owed for the time before the divorce is finalized?

Shirley's Question: If a divorce is not final until a judge signs off on it (technically still married until then) can child support be enforced for the time period before it is finalized?

Brette's Answer: Generally a temporary order is entered into during the case. If not, then child support is not payable until the order is issued.

Does money the grandparents give to the kids count towards child support?

Toni's Question: My ex has not paid child support for the last six years. His parents have always bought my kids things. They would send my kids money but I never received any money from them. Can they say that is part of child support?

Brette's Answer: No. Child support is money paid to the other parent as part of a court order.

Where is the money if mom never received the child support?

Luis' Question: My father paid child support for 13 years and my mother never received it. Where is the money? I am 25 now, so it's no longer important. But my mother just mentioned it to me so I'm interested.

Brette's Answer: Who did he pay it to? Was it the state child support collection agency? If so, they are probably still holding the funds.

Can he reduce child support payments without a court order?

Renee's Question: My ex-husband has lowered his child support on his own without a court order? What are my rights?

Brette's Answer: He can't do that. File a petition for a violation with the court. You might also consider asking to have support collected by your state agency so you don't have to deal with it.

Can he deduct what I owe him from the child support payment?

Michelle's Question: My ex is claiming I owe him money for credit card charges. He informed me today he is deducting what he says I owe from the child support payment. Can he do that?

Brette's Answer: No he can't. He is required to pay the full amount of child support to you. Child support is not affected by property distributions.

How can I pay my child support arrears?

Kristen's Question: How do I go about paying my back child support before my court date, that way I won't have to go?

Brette's Answer: You either pay your ex or the state collection agency, depending on who you were ordered to pay.

Is he still liable for child support if he moves out of the country?

Giselle's Question: Can my ex move from the country and not be held responsible for paying child support anymore?

Brette's Answer: If your ex moves out of the country, he continues to owe child support; however collecting it becomes even more difficult. Good luck.

Does he still owe child support if my 15 year old refuses visitation?

Jennifer's Question: If a 15 year old does not want to visit her father any longer, is he required to continue paying child support?

Brette's Answer: Yes. Child support and visitation are completely separate. Good luck. Find out  what to do if your child refuses visitation.

Is child support supposed to come to me if I don't live with my mom?

Heather's Question: I'm 17 and my father pays child support to my mother, but I don't live with her anymore. Is the child support supposed to come to me?

Brette's Answer: No. If you live independently you are emancipated and child support ends.

Can he pay child support directly to our son after he turns 18?

Danielle's Question: My son will be 18 on April 28th. Currently the child support payment is a direct deposit managed by DSHS. The child support obligation is through June 21, when my son graduates per the divorce agreement. My ex is telling my son that when he turns 18 he is going to pay him directly. Is that possible and if so, what can be done to prevent that?

Brette's Answer: No, he can't do that. If he does, you can file a violation/enforcement procedure. Child support is payable to the other parent, not to the child. Good luck.

Can child support be paid directly to a child in college?

Sara's Question: My daughter will be going away to college in the fall. I am currently making child support payments to my ex-husband. Once she leaves for college can I send the payments directly to my daughter instead of her father if he agrees?

Brette's Answer: Child support is payable to the parent, not the child. If you and your ex come to another agreement, get it in writing.

Will support be paid to my friend if my child lives there temporarily?

Melinda's Question: If there is a court order for child support, and the child is temporarily residing with a friend, does the case have to go back through the court to have the payee be my friend and not me?

Brette's Answer: A person who does not have legal custody cannot receive child support. 

Will I still receive support if my son is with friends over the summer?

Sharon's Question: My son is 17 and he is going to stay with his friend for the summer. Will I still receive child support from my ex while he is up there?

Brette's Answer: Yes. Child support does not change based on where the child is on a temporary basis.

Can child support be paid to someone else if the child moves out?

Catherine's Question: I'm a 16 year old teen and I will turn 17 in August. I want to move in with my boyfriend who lives with his grandma. If I move in with him, does his grandma then get the child support?

Brette's Answer: No. Only a parent or legal guardian can receive child support. By doing this you are emancipating yourself and child support is no longer available.

Will I be compensated for helping pay his child support?

Barbara's Question: During our marriage, I helped my husband make the child support payments from his previous marriage. Shouldn't the amount that was paid for child support be deducted from his share of the equity we've built? He wants to sell the house and leave me with nothing.

Brette's Answer: The child support payments your husband made will have no impact on your property settlement. Technically the responsibility was his, not yours.

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About Brette Sember - Legal Expert
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