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Understanding Child Support Forms

You and your spouse have the legal obligation to support your child, both during and after your divorce. It may be hard for you to agree on that support, and you may find that you need legal help. Child support forms are used to ask a court or government agency to help you with your support.

In a separation or a divorce, child support forms are used for three main purposes:

  • To decide the amount of support each parent must pay
  • To collect support from a parent
  • To change the amount of support a parent must pay

What Forms Do You Need to File to Get Child Support?

If you have custody, you have the right to receive temporary child support during your separation or divorce.

If you and your spouse agree on a support plan, you may file a form called a child support agreement. This form shows the court how the parents plan to provide for their child during the separation or divorce. The court must approve your agreement.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on child support, you will need to ask the court for child support. All states have a form known as a petition for support. This form is used to ask the court for temporary child support. You, your spouse or a state agency may file this form.

There are different types of child custody, and your share of support may change depending on your custody arrangement. Some states have a different petition for each type of custody. Your attorney will help you select the correct form.

You will also file a form listing your income, your assets and your expenses. If you have custody, you will include your expenses for your child. Your spouse is required to give the same information. The court uses your answers to decide how much each spouse must pay in support.

Your child may also have special needs or a health condition that requires extra care. The court should be aware of these needs. Some state petitions have a section for you to list those items; some have a separate form that you include with your petition.

If you receive child support papers- a letter or notice of a court case regarding your support-you may be required to answer the court in a form known as a response. You may also have a limited time to give your answer.

What Form Can You Use to Collect Child Support?

You or your spouse must pay your support exactly as the court decides. If your spouse falls behind in his or her payments, you may need to ask the court for help.

You or your lawyer can file forms with the court that explain your case and that ask for an order. An order lets you collect your past-due support through the court. A court may collect child support for you in a number of ways.

Some states have simple forms you can use to collect past-due support. If your spouse has a job, many states allow you to file a form called an income withholding order. If this order is approved, you may collect directly from your spouse's employer before your spouse receives his or her pay.