Common Child Support Questions


  • Author Meghan Jones
  • Published October 1, 2011
  • Word count 678

Divorces and separation can raise issues regarding child support that neither parent can anticipate. Once a court order is in place, there may still be unresolved questions and confusion. For this reason, child support related questions are among the most commonly asked questions of experts on question-and-answer websites like JustAnswer. Below are a few of the most frequently asked child support enforcement questions.

Are Verbal Agreements Legally Enforceable?

It is common for parents to arrive at many verbal agreements on child custody and support at the time of separation or divorce. More often than not, with the passing of time, one or the other parent can have a change of mind, leaving the other parent confused and feeling bitter. When this happens, the aggrieved parent may want to enforce the verbal agreement in a court of law. However, most verbal agreements may not be legally binding because there is no documentation to prove the existence of the agreement in the first place. To avoid a situation that leaves you helpless, always put an agreement in writing and duly file it in court. Once an agreement is filed in court, you will be in a better position to enforce the support agreement and take legal action.

How Long After Graduation of a Child Does Child Support Continue?

Statute on the tenure of child support can vary from state to state. Most states however, mandate that support should continue till the child reaches the age of 18 or till graduation from school, whichever is later. Depending on the state you are in, even if the child is over the age of 18 years, child support may still have to continue if the child is still attending school or college. This is especially so if this provision existed when the court order on child maintenance was first passed. The best course of action is to check the original provisions and learn about the law in your state on the issue.

Can Visitation be Declined if Child Support is not Paid?

Once again, the law in different states may vary on this issue, but most states treat visitation and child support as two different and mutually independent issues. Visitation is seen as being beneficial for the child, and most courts will insist that the order on visitation must be obeyed regardless of child support payments. Refusing the allowed visitation can be seen as a breach of court order and can result in criminal enforcement. The best course of action when faced with such a situation is to file a petition with a court, describing the situation and requesting either a withholding of visitation or review of the child support order. Only when the court favorably rules on the petition will you legally be able to refuse visitation.

International Enforcement Issues

If an obligated parent resides outside the USA, enforcing child protection can be quite a challenge. The USA has treaties with many countries to facilitate the recovery of support obligations. As such, the court order may be honored in many countries. However, even if the order is honored, contacting a defaulting parent and collecting on child support commitments can still be extremely difficult. Usually, the country where the defaulting parent currently resides can have a bearing on what you may be able to do. Check with your legal counsel on the course of action available to you or ask legal experts.

Enforcing Child Support within the United States

The skipping of support obligations by a parent even after a court order is in place is not uncommon. If you are faced with such a scenario, you need to first file a petition in court for contempt of court order and non-payment of support. There are many channels ranging from child support enforcement and court action that you can use to get the support resumed. In many states defaulting beyond a certain amount can result in imprisonment of the defaulting parent. Other means include wage garnishment, tax liens and liens on banking accounts. Ask legal experts to identify the best course of action for you.

The author is a staff writer at, a site that lets you ask experts and get answers quickly, easily and affordably. Ask your child support questions and get answers A.S.A.P when you Ask Experts at JustAnswer.

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