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Child Support Law

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What Is A Child Support Judgment?

A judgment may be entered against the non­custodial parent unless he/she files a written answer (responsive pleading) with the clerk of the Superior court within 30 days of when he/she was served with a summons and complaint. See If An Answer Is Filed. This will happen whether or not the non­custodial parent has a lawyer. If the non­custodial parent is served with a document stating the date of a court hearing, he/she should appear in court on the date shown. If the non­custodial parent does not show up, an order can still be entered by default.

It is important that the non­custodial parent answer any notice or letter that he/she receives from the District Attorney`s office, or any office, regarding paternity or child support matters. Failure to respond could result in several legal and financial consequences.

If the order states an amount of support that the non­custodial parent must pay each month, then that amount must be paid every month beginning on the date ordered. The court can estimate how much a non­custodial parent would earn and base the ordered amount of support to be paid each month on that estimate. Income estimated this way is called imputed income. The amount can be changed later based on the non­custodial parent`s actual income. An amount of child support owed but not paid is called an arrearage. Child support arrearages are charged interest at a rate specified in the law. Interest is automatically added to the arrearage and the total amount of child support owed can grow quickly.

It is important for the non­custodial parent who has been laid off his/her job or who has taken a cut in pay to immediately inform the FSD or local child support agency and request a review for modifying the support award to a lower amount. If the FSD or local child support agency cannot file papers to modify the support order quickly, the non­custodial parent can file his/her own papers. A family law facilitator at the local court may be able to help you.

If the non­custodial parent and the FSD or local child support agency are able to reach an agreement regarding support and requests made in the papers served, the non­custodial parent may handle the matter by signing an agreement called a stipulation. By signing a stipulation, the non­custodial parent is agreeing:


  • That he/she is the parent of the child(ren);
  • That he/she is obligated to pay the amount of child support and provide the health insurance stated in the stipulation; and
  • That the court may enter an order or judgment based on the stipulation without further notice.