Understand your responsibilities under child support law
Parents have a legal obligation to provide for their children, and child support laws are there to ensure they meet those obligations. Child support enters the equation when a couple that's married or living together ends their relationship and the children will be living primarily with one parent or the other.
In the United States, there are both federal and state child support laws (and in Canada, legislation exists both at the federal and provincial levels). While knowing the universal basics will be of great help, you should also seek child support information that is specific to your state, province or region.
How Child Support Payments Work
Two child support law terms you should understand are obligor and obligee. The obligor is the parent required to make the child support payments, and the obligee is the parent who receives them.
In the vast majority of cases, the obligor is the parent who does not have physical child custody. The child support payments are intended to help the obligee pay for the children's food, clothing, shelter and education. However, child support payments are usually still made to one parent or the other even in joint custody situations, if there is a significant difference in the income levels of the mother and the father.
Child support rights exist in every developed country and are intended to make sure that both parents play an active role in meeting their children's needs. However, payment schedules and amounts are determined on a case-by-case basis, which is why you should hire a lawyer to represent you in family court regardless of whether you are the obligor or the obligee.
How a Family Attorney Can Help
Attorneys help obligors by ensuring that their child support payment amounts are fair and commensurate with their income levels. They can also help negotiate more manageable terms in the event that you are having legitimate problems meeting your child support obligations.
A family lawyer can help an obligee negotiate child support payment terms that ensure the needs of the children will be met. Obligees can also get legal help if they are not receiving payments as scheduled, or if the payments are not of the correct amount.