What is Child Support?

In many countries, child support is the ongoing obligation for a
periodic payment made by a non-custodial parent to a custodial
parent, caregiver or guardian, for the care and support of
children of a relationship or marriage that has broken down. In
family law, child support is often arranged as part of a divorce,
marital separation, dissolution, annulment or dissolution of a
civil union and may supplement alimony (spousal support)
arrangements.
Legal theory

In most jurisdictions there is no need for the parents to be
married, and only paternity and/or maternity (filiation) need to
be demonstrated for a child support obligation to be found by a
competent court. Child support may also operate through the
principle of estoppal (1.) where a de facto parent (2.) that is in
loco parentis for a sufficient time to establish a permanent
parental relationship with the child or children.

Child support is based on the policy that parents are obliged to
pay for the support of their children, even when the children
are not living with both biological parents. Though courts
typically permit visitation rights to non-custodial parents, in
such separations one parent is given custody and the role of
primary caregiver. In such cases, the other parent still remains
obligated to pay a proportion of the costs involved in raising
the child. These costs are often still considered an obligation,
even when the other parent has been legally limited or
prevented from participating in or making decisions involving
the upbringing of the child or children. It is also important to
note the custodial parent still must pay a percentage of the
costs incurred raising a child, even if a non-custodial parent
has been ordered to make child support payments. In
Massachusetts, for example,it's the responsibility of the
custodial parent alone to pay the first $100 in all uninsured
medical costs for each child, per year. Only then will the courts
consider authorizing child-support money from a non-custodial
parent to be used for said costs.

1. Estoppal is a legal doctrine proposing that any person who
asks the courts to enforce a legal remedy should have a clear
conscience.

2. A de facto standard, for instance, is a technical or other
standard that is so dominant that everybody seems to follow it
like an authorized standard.

3. The term in loco parentis, Latin for "in the place of a parent",
refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to
take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent.
For example, state law gives school teachers some areas of
responsibility in which they act in loco parentis.
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