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Get a child support order

Learn about the process for getting child support orders.

Probate and Family Court

The Details

What you need

In order to get a child support order, you must file a complaint, which is a written request of what you're seeking, in court.

Whether you're married to the other parent or not, start in the Registry of the Probate and Family Court for the county where you live.

If you're married to the other parent

If you're married and seeking a divorce, you file where you last lived together with your spouse if at least one of you still lives in that county. If you've both moved from the county where you last lived together, then you can file in the county where either you or your spouse now lives.

If you aren't married to the other parent

If the other parent hasn't signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity (legal form signed by mother and father, acknowledging they are the parents of the child) or been determined by a judge to be the parent:

  • File a Complaint to Establish Paternity (CJD 106) 

If you aren't married to the other parent but paternity has been established by a voluntary acknowledgment or a court judgment:

  • File a Complaint for Support, Custody, Visitation (CJD 109) 

 

Fees

Name Fee Unit
Filing fee $100 each
Surcharge $15 each
Summons $5 each

How to file

File at the Probate and Family Court county where you live. 

File at the Probate and Family Court county where you live. 

Next steps

  1. After the complaint is filed

    When you file your complaint, you'll receive a summons (a court form that notifies the other parent of what you have filed) from the court.

    • Make copies of your complaint and the summons to keep for your records.  
    • You will then need to notify the other parent through Service of Process.

    The constable or deputy sheriff will deliver the complaint and summons to the other parent and prove the delivery by signing the back of the summons and explaining how the non-custodial parent was served (for example “in hand”).  This is called a return of service. The constable or sheriff will return it to you by mail. They may charge a service of process fee, which can vary.   

    • You must file the return of service with the court as soon as you can. The court can't make a support order unless the proof that the other parent was served has been filed with the court.
  2. Establishing a child support order quickly

    Next, if you're trying to establish a child support order quickly, you may file a motion for temporary orders at the court.

    • Use the Motion (CJD400) form and list what orders you want from the court.  Ask court personnel for possible dates for a hearing on your motion.
    • Mail a copy of the motion and notice of the hearing date to the other parent.

    Each parent must file a financial statement when you have a court hearing about money.  A financial statement is a court form that requires you to list your income, expenses, what you own and what you owe. See Financial Statements for more information.

More info

For more information on paying fees and what to do if you can't afford them, see information on Indigency (waiver of court fees).   

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