How child support cases may differ

When parents in California get a divorce, one may be required to pay child support. In some cases, a parent will pay support directly to the other while in other cases, payments may go through the state child support system. There are actually several different kinds of arrangements.

In some cases, a custodial parent may need help from the child support enforcement agency. This could range from locating a father and proving paternity to making sure child support is paid and more. This is known as an "IV-D" case. In "IV-A" cases, the custodial parent is receiving government assistance. The Office of Child Support Enforcement collects child support from the other parent in this situation.

An "IV-E" case involves a child who is being cared for by the foster system or someone else who is not the child's biological parent. These cases are also handled by the Office of Child Support Enforcement. A "Non-IV-D" case is common after a divorce because it involves privately establishing and maintaining child support.

If one parent is struggling to collect support from the other, a Non-IV-D case may become an IV-D case. Child support may need to be modified for other reasons as well such as a change in one parent's employment or marital status.

A parent who does have an adverse change in financial circumstances and who needs to modify child support payments should not procrastinate since a modification is generally not retroactive. This means that even if the modification is approved, if the parent has already fallen behind on child support payments, that parent will still be required to pay the arrears. Spousal support is separate from child support and is handled differently. Child support generally lasts for as long as a child is a minor while spousal support may only be paid for a few years.

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