Getting Temporary Child Support

A temporary support order is often necessary when you’re separated or going through a divorce, and it can help ensure your children will be provided for until a more formal arrangement is in place.

By WomansDivorce | Answers by Brette Sember, J.D.

Not only is it in the best interest of your children, it’s also a parental responsibility to provide for their financial support. Your ex may have made some verbal promises to help out financially, but the only way to ensure you get the money is through a temporary child support order. 

How to get temporary child support

To get a court order for temporary child support, you can either hire an attorney to handle everything or file the paperwork yourself. If you will be filing the petition yourself, you can ask the county clerk what paperwork you need. You can also look up the specific forms on your state’s court website. Either way, a petition for child support will need to be filed with the Family Court in your area.

Your petition will need to include information about you and the other parent, information about your minor children, and a financial affidavit. The amount of child support is calculated using the child support guidelines for your state. The court will consider the custody arrangements, the income of one or both parents, and how many children need to be supported among other factors.

Generally, motions for temporary child support are decided by the court without a hearing. But a hearing may be scheduled if the judge needs to clarify anything. If the judge finds that temporary child support is warranted, the court will issue an order specifying the amount and duration of temporary support to be paid.

Once a temporary child support order is in place, it can be enforced by the court if the non-custodial parent fails to pay the support. To be enforced, the delinquency needs to be brought to the courts attention by filing a Motion for Contempt. Enforcement mechanisms may include wage garnishment and other legal measures.

Temporary Child Support FAQs

Below you can read through some common questions that many women have about temporary child support.

Can I get child support during separation?

Nina's Question: We've been separated for 6 months and he has not given me any money towards my mortgage, bills or child support. How can I get money from him legally if I can't afford a lawyer?

Brette's Answer: You can request alimony be paid and child support as well. Go to Family Court and file a petition for child support and spousal support. You can also ask for help with the children's medical and educational expenses. You don't need an attorney.

How do I get temporary support if I can't afford to file for divorce?

Stephanie Asks: We've been separated for about 9 months now. We have a child together, however no support is being paid and I can't afford to file for divorce.

Brette's Answer: You can go file for child support on your own at your local family court. You don't need an attorney. You may also be entitled to spousal support.

Is child support retroactive to the date of separation?

Kim's Question: My husband moved out and left me with all the bills and a baby to take care of. Will he have to pay me back the money that I spend before we get divorced?

Brette's Answer: Support is not retroactive. You do not need to wait for the divorce - go to family court and get support now, or file the divorce and seek a temporary order. You should also get child support. Get a lawyer to help you.

Is an informal child support agreement enforceable?

Melissa's Question: We're separated and have a three year old son. He said that he'll verbally agree to monthly child support and a schedule for visitation; however he refuses to sign anything. I believe we need something in writing to protect both of us. However, he said I will have to take him to court to get his signature on anything. What should I do to protect myself?

Brette's Answer: You're right to have concerns about this. Unless you have a court order, he is not required to pay you a dime, and since you have nothing determining custody, he could legally take your son and not return him. Some couples are comfortable with unwritten agreements; however the only way to have a binding and enforceable agreement is to get a court order. Child support will be calculated based on his income. Go to Family Court and get some orders laying out your agreement. It is a simple process. His refusal to sign anything makes me very suspect.

What if he wants to pay the mortgage in place of child support?

Kathy's Question: My husband pays the mortgage but considers the payment as child support until the divorce is final. I do not have an adequate income to provide for our children's other monetary needs as I have been a homemaker for the last 12 years. What can I do to get by?

Brette: You need to get an attorney who can make sure you obtain temporary child support and alimony. Paying the mortgage is not child support.

Are temporary support orders enforceable?

Ann's Question: My ex was handed a temporary order of child support last month. Nine days ago, he let me know he has paid nothing. Are temporary orders valid and enforceable?

Brette's Answer: Yes, they are just as valid and enforceable as permanent orders.

Do I have to pay him child support before the divorce is final?

Nicole's Question: If the divorce isn't final, do I have to pay child support to my husband?

Brette's Answer: I don't know the details of your situation and can only offer general advice. If there is a valid order for temporary child support, you have to follow that. If you don't have that and the judge has not directed you to make payments at this point, you aren't legally obligated until the divorce and child support order is entered and official.

Do we have to go to court to have temporary child support stopped?

Tammy's Question: We have decided not to divorce. Currently the temp orders have him paying child support. Do we have to go back to court to have it stopped? Our divorce has been dismissed.

Brette's Answer: Yes you do.

Will the final child support order be less than the temporary support?

Sandra's Question: I live in FL and receive child support. The non-custodial parent lives in NY. There is a temporary support order in place. When the order becomes final, will my daughter receive less?

Brette's Answer: It depends on the numbers. A temporary child support order is meant to be temporary while all the evidence in the case is heard. The final order could have a number that goes up, down, or stays the same.


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  1. Divorce
  2. Child Support
  3. Temporary Support