In family law and public policy, child support (or child maintenance) is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child following the end of a marriage or other relationship. Child maintenance is paid directly or indirectly by an obligor to an obligee for the care and support of children of a relationship that has been terminated, or in some cases never existed. Often the obligor is a non-custodial parent. The obligee is typically a custodial parent, a caregiver, a guardian, or the state.
Depending on the jurisdiction, a custodial parent may pay child support to a non-custodial parent. Typically one has the same duty to pay child support irrespective of sex, so a mother is required to pay support to a father just as a father must pay a mother. Where there is joint custody, the child is considered to have two custodial parents and no non-custodial parents, and a custodial parent with a higher income (obligor) may be required to pay the other custodial parent (obligee).
In family law, child support is often arranged as part of a divorce, marital separation, dissolution of marriage, annulment, determination of parentage or dissolution of a civil union and may supplement alimony (spousal support) arrangements.
The law governing child support in the United States varies state-by-state and tribe-by-tribe among Native Americans; each individual state and federally recognized tribe is responsible for developing its own guidelines for determining child support. In the US, child support is the ongoing obligation for a periodic payment made directly or indirectly by an (“obligor” or paying parent or payer) to an (“obligee” or receiving party or recipient) for the financial care and support of children of a relationship or a possibly terminated marriage. Typically the obligor is a non-custodial parent. Typically the obligee is a custodial parent, caregiver or guardian, or a government agency. In the U.S., there is no gender requirement to child support, for example, a father may pay a mother or a mother may pay a father. In addition, where there is joint custody, in which the child has two custodial parents and no non-custodial parents, a custodial parent may be required to pay the other custodial parent.