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Children's Rights - Child Support

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Protecting a child's right to a healthy, loving upbringing is a key responsibility of family courts. Family courts often address children's rights by attempting to resolve family problems, not by handing out criminal sentences. They hear cases of child abuse and neglect and enforce payment of child support (money used to raise the child).

Parents are granted freedom to raise their children as they see fit in the Fourteenth Amendment. When biological parents disagree over how to raise a child—usually occurring in divorce proceedings—family courts step in to determine child custody and support matters. In situations other than divorce, courts may still determine parents are not acting in the best interests of their child. Parents can be considered unfit if they abuse their children in any way, including the denial of medical care or financial support. A judge can appoint a guardian in such situations as the court considers other remedies.

A crucial part of divorce proceedings is child support, the payments made by one parent to the other parent who has custody rights. Both parents have a legal responsibility to provide support to a child for basic needs. Most children in single parent homes have the right to support payments, which are usually provided in divorce rulings. Other forms of support, such as paying for a child's insurance coverage, can also be ordered by the court.

States are responsible for making sure parents satisfy their child support responsibilities, which are often complicated by jurisdictional (the area within which a government agency or court has legal authority) issues. Parents often move to other areas or states for jobs or to establish a new life. To help states keep track of families, Congress passed the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act of 1992, followed by the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act of 1994. These acts created rules about handling custody cases that span state lines, such as allowing states to pursue parents who owe support payments, even if they have moved to another state.

States set guidelines for what is considered adequate support, which usually ends when children reach age twenty-one, marry, or are able to support themselves. Civil and criminal penalties can be assessed against parents who do not make their child support payments. Criminal penalties can include jail sentences and fines and are applied to repeat offenders. Those who cross a state line to avoid paying support may also face federal prosecution.

By the early 1990s concern over the nonpayment of court ordered support grew. A report in 1992 found that $27 billion in support had not been paid. The U.S. Department of Justice established the Office of Child Support Enforcement to help states recover support dollars. The number of cases was enormous and forced states to find ways to collect support payments, such as claiming part of a parent's paycheck, charging fines, seizing owned property, even taking away a nonpaying parent's driver's license.

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almost 7 years ago

I just turned 19, Ive been trying figure out how to get the money my father owes in child support turned over in my name. My mom gets the money and she just spends it on stupid stuff when I could be using it, and im starting to realize that I was just being used. Cause I would like to move out of here.

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over 7 years ago

I'm a freshman in college, and currently living with my mother. My mother receives an enormous amount of money for childsupport, and hasn't helped me with my schooling or other needs. Is there a way that me and my dad could switch the money to a seperate account for me? ( so that I could move into my own apartment, and use that)

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over 2 years ago

as soon as my daughter turned 18 I told my ex to send her support payments directly to her account and when she turned 18 he told her that when she finishes high school the support payments stop and as of today she has no health insurance which he was supposed to provide because he said his wife lost her job. my daughter plans to go to college, isn't he obligated to pay if she still in school also isn't she supposed to be insured under him till shes 25 what can she do??

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almost 8 years ago

My ex-husban have shared custody in my son vacation, but he often is moving and my child don't have security with him and stability. Today I has been colling mor than 8 times, but my son never is with the fathe who is living in Homestead Fla, my son don't know the adress and the father is not with him. THat men don't pay child support, driving without licence and insurance and the car is not his property. He have all right in court and any judge put atencion to my case,. What can I do?