Couples who are going through a divorce or a separation in Westmorland County and surrounding areas and who have children should keep a few things in mind regarding child support. The court must establish the relationship that is present between a child and the parents. The paternity of the child is often the most difficult if there is any question on either side, but a paternity test can be given to determine the correct paternity of the child so that support can be ordered.
When a paternity test is given, the result must show a 99 percent match to the child for fatherhood for an order to be established. A parent can be found in contempt if testing is not completed by the father in question or if the mother does not take the child for DNA testing. The court will often determine the proper parentage of the child based on paternity instead of using the child’s last name as a name doesn’t have to be attached to DNA. Paternity can be established at any time before the child is 23 years old.
Child support can be awarded to any guardian, parent, grandparent or sibling instead of only the mother as is often thought of with child support cases. There are guidelines in place to determine the amount of child support that the parent has to pay. There are a few ways that the court can collect support payments if the parent does not comply with the order. If the parent does not pay, then an order of contempt can be put in place, which means that the parent would need to go to court to show a cause for not paying.
A family law and divorce attorney may offer assistance in establishing paternity and in compiling the proper paperwork for support payments. An attorney might also work to determine if a child support order should be increased or decreased based on the income amounts of each parent. Mediation at the attorney’s office is also an option that parents may consider if they can come to an agreement about child support without going to court.