How do I File for Child Support?

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  • Written By: Christopher John
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2020
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A person wanting to file for child support will typically need to prepare a petition to establish child support, a summons, an interim motion for child support, a request for a hearing and a notice of hearing. The petition generally will name the parties/parents/guardians involved, identify the children, and contain requests to establish paternity and to calculate and set child support. The person who initiates the action to file for child support is the petitioner, and the person answering is the respondent. After each document is prepared, the petitioner will need to make two copies of each document and submit the original and the copies to the court. The court will take the documents, place the proper stamp or endorsements on the documents, keep the originals, and give the copies back to the petitioner.

The rules concerning a petition to file for child support will vary in each jurisdiction. These rules will usually have a section specifically relating to child support matters, which the court usually calls domestic relations. In addition, each court will have its own local rules of procedure, which will also have specific rules relating to domestic relations cases. A person intending to file for child support must review and comply with these rules.


In addition to the petition to establish child support, the petitioner will need to prepare a summons form. A summons is an official document that orders the respondent to file an answer to the petition within a specified time, usually 30 days. The summons will also contain a section that the server must complete after he serves it on the respondent. The summons form is contained in the rules of procedure, and the petitioner must submit this form to the court along with the petition to file for child support. The court will take the form and place an official stamp or seal on the form to authorize it for service on the respondent.

A petitioner may also file a motion to establish interim child support at the same time that the petition to establish child support is filed. Interim means temporary, and this motion is a request that the court set up an immediate temporary order for the payment of child support. This is necessary because of the delays involved with the process of establishing child support. When a person takes action to file for child support, the process entails 30 days for the respondent to file an answer to the petition, delays stemming from the parties conducting discovery, and delays in getting a hearing set before the court, which could be months. A motion for interim support allows the court to conduct an expedited hearing to set up a temporary child support order while the case is pending.

The petitioner will also need to prepare a request for hearing and a notice-of-hearing form. These forms apply to the motion for interim child support. The request-for-hearing form is a request that the court set an expedited hearing on the motion for interim support. The notice of hearing form will contain blank sections, which the court will fill in with the date and time of hearing. Many local courts require the party requesting a hearing to complete these forms and submit them to the court along with self-addressed, stamped envelopes to each party, so the court can send hearing notices to the parties.

Many jurisdictions also will require the petitioner to submit a form called an information sheet. The rules of procedure will usually contain the form, which a petitioner must complete and file with the court along with the initial petition. This form requires special information relating to the children. Each state uses this form, through its child support enforcement agency, to enforce payment of child support. The agency uses the information to pursue the person responsible for paying child support, if he or she fails to make payments as ordered.


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