If you and your child's other parent aren't married and/or they are not contributing to the child's support, you have the right to seek child support payments. That, however, can be easier said than done if you do not know the other parent's whereabouts. But that does not mean that the door to support remains closed to you. In fact, you owe it to your child to seek support so that you can provide for your child the best life that you can.
So, how can you initiate this process? In some cases, the other parent may not be aware that you gave birth to his child if the relationship was brief or very casual. In those situations, it will be necessary to first establish paternity. He can submit a DNA sample that will be compared to the child. If it is a match, typically he will have to pay for the test. Once paternity is established, you may then seek support according to the guidelines established by the state of Tennessee.
Some parents decide to set their own child support arrangements, which are then submitted to the court for approval. The courts will usually approve agreements that meet or exceed the state's minimum support obligations.
But other times, the absent — or deadbeat — parents know full well that the children belong to them and that they are not supporting them financially or otherwise. In those instances, the deadbeat moms and dads may be intentionally dodging supporting their children by avoiding service of process, working for cash and other evasions.
You may need to seek legal guidance in order to locate the absent parent. Your Tennessee family law attorney can assist you with this, as can the state Office of Child Support Enforcement. It is helpful to provide as much information as possible about your child's parent, including:
- Full name and any aliases or nicknames
- Social Security number
- Names and addresses of parents, siblings, co-workers and employers
- List of past employers
- Child's birth certificate
- Paternity test results
- Child support order and/or divorce judgment
Once your child's other parent has been served with process, make sure that you and your attorney show up for all court appearances to plead your case.