What is a Child Support Unit?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

A child support unit is a government organization that helps with the establishment and enforcement of child support agreements. Child support units can help in nearly every step of a custody or support battle, from assisting with locating a parent that owes child support to ensuring that payments are timely. Generally, a child support unit is available to assist families that cannot afford legal representation or are on government welfare assistance. To contact the local or regional child support unit, check with a nearby department of human resources or the authorities in charge of family law courts.

Papers about paying child support.
Papers about paying child support.

Child support is a payment made for the maintenance of children considered minors; it is often assigned in cases of divorce or when a child is born out of wedlock. Generally, payment is made to the primary custodian of the child, which may be the father, mother, or a court-approved guardian. Child support orders are usually legally binding, meaning that failure to pay can lead to legal consequences.

A child support unit generally oversees the creation of support agreements and the enforcement of payment. Some courts may use a child support unit to help determine who pays what and the amount of payment. Payments are generally made on a month-to-month basis, though some may be payable as a lump sum. If payments are neglected or a dispute arises between the responsible guardians about the payment agreement, a child support unit may be able to mediate and correct the issue.

In some cases, a man may contest child support on the grounds that the child is not his biological offspring. A child support unit may assist or provide resources to obtain paternity tests that will prove or disprove a biological connection. Generally, biological parents have responsibility for child support; however, in cases of long-established marriages or partnerships where children are adopted or are only the biological children of one partner, the other partner may still be required to pay child support.

If a parent who has been ordered to pay child support refuses to pay, a child support unit may have the authority to enact certain protective measures, such as garnishing the parent's wages, restricting licenses, removing money from accounts, or informing credit bureaus of refusal to pay. These measures can act as deterrents against delinquency and try to ensure that the child or children still get appropriate payment. If a parent under a child support order is not financially able to make payments due to unemployment or other reasons, a child support unit may work with all parties to negotiate a fair and reasonable solution.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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