Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support
Authored By: DC Bar Pro Bono Center
- Why do we need to have a child support order?
- Your child has a legal right to financial support from both parents.
- Each parent has a legal responsibility to support his or her children.
- What if the child's mother has filed for child support, but I don't think I am the father?
- In most cases, the judge will allow you to have a paternity test if you ask for one. The judge will decide who pays for the test.
- If the D.C. government (Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Services Division) filed the support case, the court might require them to pay for the test initially, but then might later require you to pay for the test if you are found to be the father.
- If the mother is the one who filed for support, the court might order her to pay the cost, or might divide the cost between the two of you.
- How do I know that the amount of the child support order is fair?
The law wants the amount of child support to be fair. Factors that help decide what is fair include where the child lives most of the time, the income of both parents, the cost of the child's daycare and health insurance, each parent's other child support obligations, and the age and number of children in your case.
- I really don't know anything about the other parent's income.
You can ask the judge to order the other parent to bring proof of his or her income to court. Proof might include pay stubs, W-2 forms, or tax returns.
- What is the D.C. Child Support Guideline?
The amount of child support is usually determined by using the D.C. Child Support Guideline, which means that everyone in the exact same financial and custodial situation as you would pay or receive the same amount of child support.
- To help you figure out what amount is fair in your case, you can use the Child Support Guideline calculator
- The Child Support Guideline amount can be adjusted higher or lower if
· The child has extraordinary expenses (medical care, special schooling) or
· The parent has extraordinary needs (medical care)
- What if we share custody?
- If a child spends 35% or more of his or her time with each parent or guardian, there is a presumption that the parties have shared physical custody of the child. This will be taken into account by the Child Support Guideline calculator.
- If your incomes are about the same, and the child spends about the same amount of time with each of you, probably neither of you will pay or receive child support.
- What if the other parent is not paying what the court ordered?
- That parent is still entitled to visit the child according to the court order.
- You can file a Motion for Contempt for Child Support Order asking the Court to make him or her pay. Click here for a Motion for Contempt you can fill out on the computer. (You will still need to print and file it with the court.)
- What if I do not want to pay the child support that the court ordered?
- You are still entitled to visit your child according to the court order.
- You must continue to pay what the court ordered until the court changes its order.
- If you do not pay what the court ordered, the judge could find you in contempt for disobeying its order, and might order you to pay a fine, spend time in jail and/or have your wages garnished.
- How do I change the child support order?
- You can file a Motion to Modify Child Support Order if your or the other parent's financial circumstances have changed. This Motion could be to
- Increase Child Support
- Decrease Child Support
- Suspend Child Support (for example, if you were temporarily laid off) or
- Terminate Child Support
Click here for a Motion to Modify Child Support that you can fill out online. (You will still need to file it with the court.)
- If the judge grants your request, the change will only take effect back to the date you filed the motion, NOT back to the date the change occurred. It is important to file a Motion to Modify right away if there is a change in your circumstances.
- What if I have a lot of bills?
- The Child Support Guideline takes into account the cost of living. High monthly expenses or debts will not generally reduce the amount of support your children are entitled to. The Court will consider if you have extraordinary medical bills
- The Child Support Guideline does take into account the children's daycare and health insurance expenses, so you can bring proof of those expenses to court with you.
- What if the other parent earns less than $14,856 per year?
The court will usually order that parent to pay $50 per month.
- What if the other parent is incarcerated?
The court will usually order NO child support until that parent is released.
- I was ordered to pay child support a few years ago, but now the children are living with me. Can I stop paying?
- You can only stop paying after you have a court order telling you that you may stop.
- You can file a Motion to Terminate Child Support or a Motion to Modify Child Support, explaining to the court how the circumstances have changed. You should do this as soon as possible because the change will only take effect back to the date you filed the motion, NOT back to the date the change occurred.
- Click here for a Motion to Modify Child Support that you can fill out on the computer. You will still need to print and file it with the court.
- What if the Court records show that I owe more money than I think I do?
You can bring your receipts and records of payments to the Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Services Division (CSSD) and ask to speak to a Supervisor. You could also request an audit of your child support account, and/or talk to a lawyer about the problem.
- I am paying my child support into the court as the judge ordered, but sometimes the other parent needed money right away, so I gave him/her some. Can I get a credit on my account for that?
- Usually not. If you are paying into the court, any money you give directly to the other parent will be considered a gift.
- If the other parent signs and files an affidavit telling the court that he/she received the support payment directly from you, the court will probably give you credit.
- Where can I find other pleadings for child support and paternity cases?
Click here for a listing of court forms that you can fill out on the computer. You will still need to print and file them with the court.
- Where do I file court papers?
- For child support cases only: All court documents must be filed in person at the Central Intake Center (CIC), Room JM-520 (JM level), D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave., NW. The CIC is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
- For child support cases that are part of another case, such as a divorce or custody case:
- If you do not have a lawyer, you may file any other court papers either at the CIC or online through the CaseFileXpress “eFiling” system.
- If you do not have a lawyer and choose to eFile your documents, you can register for eFiling at www.casefilexpress.com (click on login button and select DC New Version). For assistance with eFiling, you can contact a CaseFileXpress customer service representative 24/7 at their toll-free number 877-433-4533 or by email during business hours at firstname.lastname@example.org