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Child support terms you should know

Every legal matter comes with its own set of jargon and terminology, and child support cases are no different. If you want to stay on top of the game when it comes to a child support-related dispute, the more you know about the applicable legal terms, the better off you'll be. To get you started on the right track, let's take a quick review of a few of the most basic child support terms you should familiarize yourself with.

Accrual or arrearage: When a parent fails to make required child support payments, the sum of the amount owed is referred to as the "accrual" or "arrearage." Parents who are overdue on child support are "in arrears."

Medical support: This refers to the amount of money paid to help support the child's medical costs. This includes health insurance coverage and other costs relating to medical care.

Court order or decree: This is a legally-binding order from a judge, magistrate or administrative officer in a court of law. A court order or "decree" will dictate the terms of the child support owed by a parent. Failure to adhere to the court order can result in a parent being held in "contempt" of court. That parent could face criminal consequences, wage garnishment and other sanctions.

Custodial parent: This is the parent with whom the children live. In most cases the custodial parent has the right to receive monetary child support from the other parent.

Noncustodial parent: This is the parent the children do not live with, but who probably has visitation rights. The custodial parent usually is the one who needs to pay monthly child support payments to the noncustodial parent.

There are many more child custody terms that parents should learn before they begin to negotiate a fair child custody settlement or litigate a child custody dispute with their co-parent. Learn more about important child and spousal support issues here on our website.

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