There are very limited circumstances in which a child can sue a parent to collect child support. Typically, the custodial parent is the one who goes to court to enforce an order of child support that the non-custodial parent has not paid.
The advice of a lawyer can be quite useful in cases involving child support. A North Carolina family law attorney can talk to you and provide guidance tailored to your unique situation. Let’s explore the multiple issues involved in the question, “Can a child sue for child support?”
Can a Child Sue to Obtain an Order for Child Support?
Generally, only a parent can petition the court to enter an order obligating the other parent to pay child support. Most children who are the subjects of child support orders are under the age of 18 and cannot file lawsuits. In divorce or paternity lawsuits, the parents are the named parties to the legal action.
What Is Back Child Support?
The term “back child support” refers to situations in which a court has ordered a parent to pay to the other parent, but the obligated parent has not paid the amount owed. In practice, some courts consider child support delinquent if 30 days or more have passed since the date the parent owed the payment. Some other courts use a shorter timeline for delinquency, particularly if the parent obligated to pay child support has a track record of not paying on time.
Who Can Collect Back Child Support?
The parent who is to receive the support payments, usually the custodial parent, can take legal action to enforce the court-ordered child support if the obligated parent falls behind on payments. While it could be tempting to file an enforcement action immediately when the obligated parent refuses to pay child support, the recipient parent usually has to wait until the other parent misses at least one payment. Sometimes people say things out of anger and later do the right thing.
If the obligated parent falls behind on child support payments and the parent to receive the child support dies, the child might be able to sue to collect the past-due payments. The child would have to get appointed by the court to administer the deceased parent’s estate in order to take legal action on behalf of the decedent.
Can a Child Sue to Get the Support Paid Directly to the Child Instead of to the Custodial Parent?
Usually, the child cannot sue to have the obligated parent paid the child support to the child instead of the custodial parent. The child might feel that the custodial parent does not spend enough of the money on the child. The purpose of child support is to keep a roof over the child’s head and pay the other expenses of raising a child.
Maintaining a household that provides space, shelter, food, and clothing for a parent with a child can cost substantially more than the parent would need if living alone. Rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and additional items can create financial obligations that might not look like direct costs for the child.
If the child moves out of the custodial parent’s home and sets up his living arrangements elsewhere, the court might consider the child to be emancipated even if under the age of 18. In that situation, the court would likely terminate the child support obligation entirely rather than order the other parent to pay support directly to the child.
North Carolina family law attorneys can help you pursue back child support or handle other family law issues. Call our office today to set up a consultation.