Child Support

What is Child Support?

In many countries, Child Support is the ongoing obligation for a periodic payment made by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent, caregiver or guardian, for the care and support of children of a relationship or marriage that has broken down. In family law, child support is often arranged as part of a divorce, marital separation, dissolution, annulment or dissolution of a civil union and may supplement alimony (spousal support) arrangements.

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Legal Theory

In most jurisdictions there is no need for the parents to be married, and only paternity and/or maternity (filiation) need to be demonstrated for a child support obligation to be found by a competent court. Child support may also operate through the principle of estoppel (1.) where a de facto parent (2.) that is in loco parentis for a sufficient time to establish a permanent parental relationship with the child or children.

Child support is based on the policy that parents are obliged to pay for the support of their children, even when the children are not living with both biological parents. Though courts typically permit Visitation Rights to Non-Custodial Parents, in such separations one parent is given custody and the role of primary caregiver. In such cases, the other parent still remains obligated to pay a proportion of the costs involved in raising the child. These costs are often still considered an obligation, even when the other parent has been legally limited or prevented from participating in or making decisions involving the upbringing of the child or children. It is also important to note the custodial parent still must pay a percentage of the costs incurred raising a child, even if a non-custodial parent has been ordered to make child support payments. In Massachusetts, for example,it’s the responsibility of the custodial parent alone to pay the first $100 in all uninsured medical costs for each child, per year. Only then will the courts consider authorizing child-support money from a non-custodial parent to be used for said costs.

  1. Estoppel is a legal doctrine proposing that any person who asks the courts to enforce a legal remedy should have a clear conscience.
  2. A de facto standard, for instance, is a technical or other standard that is so dominant that everybody seems to follow it like an authorized standard.
  3. The term in loco parentis, Latin for “in the place of a parent”, refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent. For example, state law gives school teachers some areas of responsibility in which they act in loco parentis.