Child support isn’t always an easy subject for divorced parents. Information about how the process works can help ease some of the pain of paying, and of collecting. Every state has an agency that sets up and manages the child support process, but many local courts and county attorneys are part of that process. The obvious role of the court is in setting the amount of child support payments (although in many jurisdictions this is accomplished by alternative disupte resolution without going before a judge). But many local agencies, courts, and county attorneys (or district attorneys, depending on the jurisdiction) are involved in enforcing collection of child support, and they are also sources of information about the process.
Let’s look at some examples from south to north – Alabama to Minnesota. The Child Support Enforcement Division of Alabama Department of Human Resources is a typical state agency that manages the details of child support. It collects and distributes child support payments; enforces payment by means of income withholding, reporting to credit bureaus and the IRS, filing liens, and other means; helps establish paternity by a variety of means including genetic testing; tracks down non-custodial parents; reviews support orders on a periodic basis, and maintains on online payment inquiry system that allows both parties to check the payment status and history.
The Division also provides information about the withholding process for both employers and employees, detailed state guidelines, a downloadable Guide to Child Support Services, and an explanation of parties’ rights. Since application for the agency’s services is done at local offices, the agency provides contact information for each county office.
Court clerks in some Alabama counties also provide child support services and information. The Morgan County Circuit Clerk provides information about address changes, visitation schedules, and links to the state Central Disbursement Division and to applicable forms. The Shelby County Circuit Clerk provides contact information for state agencies, a description of the child support process, and links to forms and guidelines.
All of these Alabama resources can be found at CourtReference’s Guide to Alabama Courts – Self Help and Legal Research. The link to the state agency’s Child Support Information and Services is near the top of the the list, in the Statewide category. Scroll down to individual county information for the Morgan and Shelby County links.
Also check out Court Reference’s Guide to Minnesota Courts – Self Help and Legal Research. In the Statewide category you’ll find the link to Minnesota Child Support Services. The Child Support Enforcement Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services provides information about the state program, the connection between its oversight of the program and local offices’ administration of the program, and privacy policies.
The Division has detailed instructions for applying for services; types of services available including locating parents, establishing paternity, requesting court orders, enforcing orders via contempt proceedings and other means, modification of orders, working with other states, and payment processing; contact information for local agencies by county, information about income withholding for employers, a glossary, guidelines, information about the centralized collection and disbursement of payments, and downloadable publications and forms.
Minnesota county agencies directly administer the program, so scroll down the Guide to Minnesota Courts – Self Help and Legal Research page to your county and look for Child Support links. The Aitkin County Child Support Unit provides a description of its services. In Anoka County, the Child Support Office offers information about paternity, court orders to establish support, and enforcement. In addition, the Anoka County Attorney’s Office offers information about its services and the court process.
Scroll down the Minnesota page to find child support links for many other Minnesota counties. Check CourtReference’s information for any other state north, south, east, and west for similar links to state and local child support agencies, their services and information.