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The Steps You need to take to initiate Child Support ______________________________________________________________________


Although Every State process may differ, the standard steps for setting up child support are as follows:

1)  Request an Application
There are usually three options for obtaining a Child Support Enforcement application.

  1. Online - Most states have online applications that you can download and fill out.
    Acrobat Reader is often required to view and print the application. If you do not have Acrobat Reader on your computer, please visit the Adobe Web site to download the free software.
  2. Telephone - To request an application, call the state or county agency.  They will in most cases send the from to you.  The agencies, by state can be viewed by going to our Resources by State web page.
  3. In person - Pick up an application at the Child Support office.

All applications are accepted.  If for some reason your application cannot be processed, you'll be notified about what must be remedied in order for us to proceed with the processing of your application. 

Once your application has been accepted, you'll receive a notification in the mail. The application process takes approximately eight weeks.

2)  Application Fee
Parents who don't receive public assistance such as Temporary Aide to Needy Families or Medicaid, may need to pay a nominal fee $10-30 to begin the application process. If you are receiving public assistance, you usaully don't have to pay this fee.  

3)  Submit Your Application
If you decide to apply, your application must be legible, completed accurately and submitted to the Child Support Enforcement unit either by mail or in person. Be sure to include the non-refundable application fee, if required.

4)  Speed Up the Process
Applicant cooperation is critical to the handling of your application.  Without basic information about the non-custodial parent, such as full name, date of birth, physical location or assets, your case may be given a lower priority.  Therefore, any information that you can give the Child Support Enforcement unit may raise the priority of your case.

The Child Support Enforcement unit will need copies of the following documents, if they apply to your case:

  • Divorce Decree, signed by a judge or magistrate
  • Separation Agreement, signed by a judge or magistrate
  • Child and/or Spousal Support Order, signed by a judge or magistrate
  • Divorce Petition (if you are in the process of obtaining a divorce)
  • Complete payment record of all child support paid directly to you if the obligor was ordered to pay you

Copies of these documents will help speed up the processing of your application.


  After submitting my application, what's next?

Once your application has been accepted, you'll receive a notification in the mail. The application process takes approximately eight weeks. 

Several factors may speed up your process. 

  • Completed application and fee
  • Provide a copy of the child support court order and or divorce decree
  • Provide child support payment history

Once your case is entered into our computer system it will be assigned to a Legal Technician.  The next step will be determined by whether or not you have a child support order.  Please choose from the following options for the next step that applies to your situation.

If You already Have a Court Order

The process below may not apply to everyone, but may provide information regarding some of the steps needed to process your case.

If you already have a court order for child support and have submitted that with your application to our office you can expect a legal document titled "Entry of Appearance."  This document notifies all parties involved, including the courts, that the state agency is the third party intervenor in the case.  

Along with an Entry of Appearance you should expect to receive a letter welcoming you to the program and a legal document titled "Affidavit of Direct Support."  The affidavit will help us determine the total arrears due to you and/or the department, depending on whether or not public assistance was involved.  

Upon determination of the arrears, we will file with the courts a "Motion to Determine Total Arrears Due."  This will also be filed if there are no arrears due.  Determination of arrears is necessary to ensure proper enforcement of your order.  

After the order has been signed by the courts, your case will be assigned to a Legal Technician that will enforce your order.

If You need to Obtain a Court Order

The process below may not apply to everyone and only pertains to cases where paternity is not an issue.  

If the non-custodial parent's location is known, they will be served with legal documentation.  The non-custodial parent is required to appear in the agency office for a negotiation conference.  The custodial parent is notified of the conference, but is not required to attend although financial documentation must be provided.  

If the non-custodial parent disagrees to the terms, a temporary order is established and filed with the court along with a request for hearing on the issues.  In the meantime, while waiting for the hearing date, the temporary order is enforced.  

Failure to appear by the non-custodial parent could result in an order of default.  


This is an overview of the process.  Each state may use different terminology, but this is the basic process.


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