Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support in Louisiana
Authored By: Louisiana Family Law Task Force
- What is child support?
This is money to help the other parent raise the child(ren) and to pay for everyday living expenses for them.
- Who can get child support?
A married, unmarried, or divorced parent, who has physical custody of a child, can get child support. This is a parent, who takes care of a child, called the primary caretaker or domiciliary parent. As long as a parent is the biological father of the child, you can get child support from him.
Nonparents such as grandparents may get child support from the biological parents if they have legal custody of a child.
- How do I get child support?
1. You may get child support if the other parentagrees to pay you money to help raise a child.
2. You may also get child support from that parent by filing papers with the court. These papers are called a Rule for Child Support or Petition for Divorce. You may use Child Support Enforcement Services to help you. You work with the caseworker, who will work with the District Attorney's Office for you. The district attorney will file court papers to help you get child support from the other parent. You may also hire a private attorney or use a legal services attorney if you are qualified for their free service.
Usually, if you have questions about child support, the first and best place to start is to call the Child Support Enforcement Services office in your area. You may have to pay a fee from $10.00 to $25.00 to get their help.
- When should I try to get child support?
When you need the money to raise a child, and when you are separated or live apart from the other parent.
- What court do I use, to get child support started?
You may file a petition for divorce requesting child support in a state district court, or you can file a rule for child support in state district or juvenile court. You file papers for child support in the parish where you and your child live, where the father of the child lives, where the child was conceived or born, or where the father acknowledged that he is the father of the child.
- The parent of my child avoided getting the court papers and is hiding from the sheriff. Can I still get child support?
Yes, you can. It may just take a longer time for you to get child support. If Child Support Enforcement Services is helping you, the state will try to get the court papers to them so that they know about the hearing date. The state will try to find the absent parent by using their social security number. But as a last resort, the court may appoint a curator ad hoc (someone to represent the absent parent). The curator ad hoc will be served with the court papers and will represent the absent parent at the child support hearing. The curator ad hoc will try to let absent parent know that there is a child support hearing coming up. Once that is done by the curator, your attorney or the state's attorney will be able to ask the court to order child support.
- How much child support can I get?
It depends on
- the number of children you have with the other parent,
- your income,
- the other parent's income, and
- the kind of custody you have of the child (shared or not).
Child support in Louisiana is based on the need of the child or children and the ability of the other parent to pay child support. (That is, the child support amount will be based on how much you make and how much the other parent makes).
Here are some examples. (1) If you have one child living with you (you have custody), you make $893.00 a month, and the other parent makes $1,000.00 a month. Your child support amount will be $171.09 based on the child support guidelines. (2) You have what is called "shared custody," (the child lives with you and the other parent gets to see the child almost half of the time of the year). You make $500.00 and the other parent makes $1,000.00 a month. Then the other parent will owe you $13.73 dollars a month instead of $171.09 a month.
- How do I get the amount of child support changed?
You may get the amount of child support changed if there is a material change of circumstances (this is when the custody arrangement is changed, yours or the other parent's income has changed, or there have been other big changes in your family life). For example:
- Instead of having shared custody, the other parent sees the child much less than 50% of the time in a year and the child lives with you more now. You may get the child support order changed to get more money.
- The child's needs have increased (for example, you may need more money as the child gets older).
- The other parent makes more money and it has been more than three years since you were in court to get child support.
- What if the other parent is not working and does not have any income, can I still get child support?
Yes, because the law requires a non-custodial parent (that is, a parent who does not live with the child) pay a minimum amount of child support. That minimum amount is $100.00 a month for any number of children. But if your custody arrangement is shared or split custody, then there is no requirement. The law also requires that at least minimum wage be counted as the other parent's income.
- Can I get child support from the other parent if he or she is disabled or cannot work and is receiving SSI, or SSDI?
No, you will not be able to receive child support if the other parent is receiving SSI, and can prove that he cannot work. But you may be able to receive child support if the other parent is receiving SSDI (disability insurance).
- What if the father of my child claims not to be the biological father?
You need to prove he is the father by asking the court to order or require him to take a DNA test. If you have help from the Child Support Enforcement Services, the state will order the test . The father will pay for the test if he is found to be the father. If he is found not to be the father of your child, then he does not have to pay for the testing or the child support.
- Do I have to go to court to get a custody order before I can get the child support order?
No. At your child support hearing, you will be asked where the child lives and who is living with the child, and many other questions about your and the other parent's income.
- The father or mother of my child has not paid child support since they were ordered to do so. What do I do?
If you got the child support order with the help of Child Support Enforcement Services, speak to your caseworker. The caseworker will contact the parent and try to work something out with them. Or, the caseworker - through the District Attorney's Office - will go to court and file a Rule for Contempt. The other parent will be called back into court for a contempt hearing and can be put in jail for not paying child support since the last court date. Privately paid attorneys may also do this and get attorney's fees.
- My child's mother/father is not paying child support. I live in a different parish now. Do I have to go back to the court which gave me the child support order to try to get him or her to pay now?
Maybe. You don't have to go back to the other court if you register the child support order with the court in the parish where you are living in now. You register by filing the child support order with the court in the parish where you are living now. This is like filing with the court to start child support again. You need to serve the father or mother with court papers: either by certified registered mail or by having the sheriff's office serve the papers.
But if you don't want to register the order with the new court, you have to go back to the first court.
- Now the parent of my child does not work and does not have any money. How do I get them to pay for child support?
You take the other parent back to court by filing papers with the court with the help of Child Support Enforcement Services or an attorney. The court will order the other parent to pay child support based on the minimum wage or based on their past earning capacity or potential earning capacity (that is, what he or she used to earn, or is capable of earning).
However, a custodial parent of a child born of both parents under the age of 5 is not required to work, and a judge cannot make a parent of a child younger than five pay child support.
- I have a child support hearing scheduled with Child Support Enforcement Services and the District Attorney's Office. But I also have a custody hearing a few weeks after that. Should I wait for the custody hearing?
Child support is separate from custody and visitation. You should go to the child support hearing, and custody will be decided later. If there are any changes, then the parent who has to pay child support has to go back to court and get the child support amount changed.