Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 8, 2020

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Child support may be ordered of any legal parent who has not officially relinquished his or her parental rights. If you are a biological parent, or an adoptive parent, of a child, then you may be ordered to pay child support for that child whenever you are no longer living in his or her home or providing him with routine care. 

Who May Be Ordered to Pay Child Support?

Traditionally, there was a notion that child support was primarily paid by men. This stereotype exists because women were often given custody of the children in a divorce situation while men traditionally worked outside of the home more often and made larger incomes. As gender equality has taken hold, it is now common for either the mother or the father to have to pay child support, depending on who has custody of the children. 

Child support may be ordered even if the parent in question did not want the child and/or has no physical contact with the child. Unless the parent has legally given up any and all parental rights (an action that the court and the other parent would both have to approve) he or she can still be ordered by the court to pay support. 

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When Are You Ordered to Pay?

Child support is most often ordered in situations where one parent has either sole or primary custody of the child. The parent who isn’t responsible for raising the child on a daily basis will be ordered to pay a set amount, based on the incomes of each parent and the needs of the child, in order to share in the financial burden of parenthood. 

What If You Do Not Pay Child Support?

If you do not pay the child support that is ordered of you, then you may face a myriad of legal problems. You may lose your driver’s license, have your wages or tax returns garnished, or even be jailed in certain instances depending on where you live. 

Getting Help

Because child support is determined on a state-by-state level, it is always advisable to speak with an attorney in the area where you live in order to get help understanding the rules for child support that will apply to you.