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Child support and legal separation: The differences

If you decide to legally separate from your spouse, will it change the way child support works? This is an important question, because not understanding what your child will receive can be a struggle for you as a parent. In many cases, parents will be able to work together to determine how much child support will be paid, but this is a situation that doesn't draw as much attention. Without the court's involvement, there's no way for the state to know that your child needs child support payments because of a change in your financial situation.

Normally, you can choose to stay legally separated or to divorce when you separate. In a typical situation, when you determine that you're going to get a divorce, you'll wait for the judge to determine who should pay support and how much.

Legal separations work differently, though. You don't need to sign any documents to show that you're living apart, and that can make it harder to prove that child support is due.

You have two options in this situation. First, you can sign a separation agreement that states how much the noncustodial parent will pay each month. Your attorney may need to draw up special paperwork to make sure it's requested and received, and it may need to be approved by a court. Second, you could seek to make the court order the other parent to make payments. This could be necessary if one parent doesn't agree to the separation agreement or if the separation has been going on for a year or longer.

Source: Yahoo! Finance, "Does Child Support Work Differently in Legal Separations?," April 08, 2016

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