Can I Get Child Support if I'm Not Divorced Yet?

By Heather Frances J.D.

All parents are legally obligated to support their children, regardless of whether the parents are married, but most married parents don't try to put a child support order in place until they start thinking about divorce. It is possible to receive child support while you are still married, but you will have to follow your state’s procedures to receive it, which may involve filing a request with the court.

All parents are legally obligated to support their children, regardless of whether the parents are married, but most married parents don't try to put a child support order in place until they start thinking about divorce. It is possible to receive child support while you are still married, but you will have to follow your state’s procedures to receive it, which may involve filing a request with the court.

Child Support Before Divorce

The custodial parent doesn't have to file for divorce before beginning a child support case. If you and your spouse aren’t ready to initiate a divorce yet, the custodial parent may file a complaint or petition with the court to establish a child support order. Your state’s child support enforcement agency or local prosecutor may offer assistance with filing this complaint. Child support is not typically retroactive to the date of separation, so the earlier you file, the more money you can receive.

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Custody and Visitation Before Divorce

Because the amount of child support usually hinges on the court's distribution of parenting time, custody and visitation will also be addressed in the petition and child support order, even if the order is issued before a divorce is final. While the court’s custody and visitation determination is not permanent, the court may base the final custody and visitation order on the temporary one established prior to the divorce.

Pendente Lite Orders

When a divorce case has been filed, a court may enter temporary orders, called “pendente lite” orders, to decide such issues as alimony and child support while the divorce is pending. With these temporary orders, a custodial parent can get a child support order within weeks after filing for divorce. You will likely have to ask the court for a temporary child support order by filing a pendente lite motion. Once the order is issued, it can be enforced like any other court order.

Changing a Child Support Order

A pendente lite child support order may be similar to the final order set forth in the divorce decree, unless custody arrangements change or a parent suffers a significant change of financial circumstances during the pendency of the divorce. Such changes in circumstances could impact the court’s application of the state’s child support guidelines, so the amount of support will need to be recalculated before the final order is issued. If circumstances change after the divorce is final, your state may allow a child support order modification.

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Nevada State Laws on Custody Prior to Divorce

References

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How Often Can You Check an Ex-Spouse's Income for Child Support in North Carolina?

Child support is awarded to a custodial parent to assist with the expense of raising a child. The non-custodial parent is legally obligated to pay once a court has ordered it. Although the court makes a determination on the amount of child support at the time child support is awarded, the order can be modified at a later date due to a change in circumstances, such as when an ex-spouse’s income increases.

Temporary Visitation Rights

If you are a parent and filing for divorce, you can ask the court for custody and visitation orders in addition to other relief you may be seeking, such as property, alimony and child support. If your spouse currently has the kids and you want to see them while the divorce is pending, you can petition the court for a temporary visitation order. This order establishes your visitation rights and remains in effect until the court finalizes the divorce and a permanent order takes its place.

The Procedures During a Divorce in Colorado

If you're divorcing in Colorado, the process is going to take at least three months because the state will not grant a divorce until 90 days after one spouse files for divorce and serves the other with a copy of the papers. If your divorce is contested, it will take longer. However, the wait may not be as long as in other states because Colorado's divorce procedure includes several deadlines for moving cases through the court system in a timely fashion.

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