Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On Obtaining Support For Your Child

Today's post comes courtesy of Suzanne, a Certified Credit Counselor and single mom. Sit back and relax as she kicks knowledge on what to do when your child is not receiving the support they deserve. 

I have been a single, full-time custodial parent for six years of my son’s life. I am the parent that kisses boo-boo’s, gives showers, prepares all meals, does homework, shows up at every school event and sporting activity and tucks my son in to bed every night. As if that isn’t enough I have financially supported him on my own for four out of those six years. 

The lack of support for the first four years was my fault; call it pride, stubbornness, wishful thinking I thought I could do it all on my own, I didn’t need my ex’s help financial, or otherwise. 

Then two years ago it hit me...

I am only hurting my son by not pushing for the support he deserves. Yes, we would “occasionally” receive a few hundred dollars a couple times a year (I would always put that money in my son’s savings account) but, was it fair to him?  That’s when I decided it was time to contact our states domestic relations department and put in an order for support.

While my situation is probably not typical there are many single parents out there who never seek the support their kids deserve. Not receiving your child support often means that you and your kids lack choices in life. You are solely responsible for all of your kid’s financial needs; activities, food, medical bills, every last penny. That’s a lot of pressure!

Forced choices...
You are often forced to make choices you may not otherwise make if you had the support to fall back on. Such as…
·      Calling in sick when you need to.
·      Changing jobs on a whim.
·      Saying yes to the new toy your child desperately wants and you can’t afford.
·      Going back to school.

So what can you do?
If you are not receiving your child support, it is important for you to understand your rights as a custodial parent. Child support is a responsibility and an obligation, not something that should be dismissed or ignored by the non-custodial parent. Here are some basic facts you should know.

  • Contact your local enforcement agency.  Their goal is to make sure that the financial responsibility of raising children is equitable between you and your ex.
  • Obtain a court order.  A court order is a document issued by the court and signed by a judge, or other official, ordering the non-custodial parent to make child support payments. The court order will specify the amount and frequency payments should be made.
  • Consider working with a private child support enforcement company. Often less expensive than an attorney these companies can help you get the support you and your kids deserve.
  • Hire an attorney.  While this may be the most expensive option, sometimes it is in your best interest to seek legal help in obtaining your support.
Know that you are not alone!
There are many single parents out there that assume the entire financial burden when it comes to parenting their children. Unfortunately, the systems put in place are not perfect and sometimes child support cases slip through the cracks.

The most important thing to remember when the child support doesn’t arrive is to keep a clear head, and try not to drag your children into child support issues. Knowing how to get the ball rolling when it comes to support is the first step to assuring your kids a brighter financial future.

Suzanne Cramer  is a certified credit counselor and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne Debt Relief Services. Suzanne writes for Divorce, Debt and Finances and Major Life Challenges. Follow Suzanne on Twitter @ADivorcedMom where she shares her insights as a single-divorced mom with tips and tricks to keep your finances in check.  


  1. I know with my experiences being a single mom, it took me years to file for child support. I got a cornucopia of broken promises, and I finally had enough. But, I did unfile after I filed the first time. Why? Because he got mad when I told him. Once I stopped paying him any mind I refiled and I'm glad I did. though I dont think Im getting enough support as I should, I'm getting something, and it helps to cover my daughters school costs. And now I dont have to nag him every week to support his child. You just have to be ready to say enough is enough.

  2. @MommyGlow Many of us choose to wait until the "enough is enough" point before seeking support--better late than never. Our kids deserve to have the support, we just have to keep telling ourselves that.

  3. I have filed for child support and have received a total of $50 in over a year. It took me a while and then I realized that my son deserves to be taken care of by both his parents. His father claims that he isn't able to help financially but we've arranged that our son will stay with him over the summer. Granted that will save me a couple thousand dollars alone. But I wonder what will happen when my son comes back home?

  4. Great post! Way to keep everyone informed!

  5. Very informative and important for parents to remember.


  6. I think it's great that you write about some of these difficult things - I think it's such a great way of helping people who may be in a tough situation. Well done!!!

  7. I'm not going through this but this is very informative!

  8. Thank goodness I never had to experience this. When my hubby and I split after Moo was born, he stepped up and made sure she had everything she needed. Now, I do wish my mom would have filed for child support from my father once he split because we struggled and he lived the high life. We went without a lot including health insurance for a while.

    Ultimately, it's not about being evil or getting even it's about making sure your child provided for.

  9. I'm always impressed by the ways various women, such as you, Alicia, and Suzanne, are so strong!

  10. I'm not a single mom, but my mom is .. she raised both of us alone she never filed for support and now ( I'm 33) she still regrets it.

  11. A child deserves to be taken care of by both parents, even the absent ones. Stand by your decision, and like me put that support into a college fund for when she graduates college.

  12. Great tips!Most of the time making single parenthood work is all about focusing on what's most important --the child. If a mom can do that, then it will be no problem to work child support, or any other issue, out with the dad.

  13. This is a great resource Alicia and Suzanne. I realize relationships are complicated but the idea that a parent wouldn't take financial responsibility for their child(ren) makes me FURIOUS. I'm glad to read there are resources available to help.

  14. I agree that the thought of a parent not taking financial responsibility for their child is quite infuriating. It really makes me sad and makes my stomach turn. That being said, it's not always the case. And I think once the custodial parent puts the needs of the child first, nothing else really matters, certainly not the absent parent being angry. I do not depend on the child support that Aiden receives b/c it is inconsistent, but when it arrives, I put it to good use, usually in Aiden's savings account.

    I'm so happy that this article helped some of you out! It's always a tricky subject, but ultimately it DOES help the child out. And that's what's most important.


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