What do I need to do to establish child support and visitation with my child?

Justipedia Staff
Profile Picture of Justipedia Staff

Whether you're facing a legal issue or just seeking information, Justipedia aims to be your most trusted resource for legal information on the Web. With the help of legal professionals across the country, we put the law in plain language to help answer your top legal questions.

Justipedia was founded by Internet veterans Cory Janssen and Mitchell Allen. Janssen founded Investopedia.com and grew it one of the largest investing sites on the Web. Allen is an author, speaker and the founder of LeadRival, the leading provider of pay-per-action advertising in consumer legal services. Full Bio


What do I need to do to establish child support and visitation with my child?

A:This process may vary among different states, but child support rules and procedures are generally uniform all throughout the country. The procedure largely depends on the material case facts of a child support request by one parent, or a third-party request for a paternity test by another potential parent. At present, some states have laws regarding the legitimacy of children within a family unit. Regardless of who the biological parent may be, many states recognize the father at the time of the birth as the individual who is married to the mother of the child. While most cases involving the establishment of visitation rights are initiated by men, women can also establish their need for visitation rights to their children, apart from child support arrangements with the court and the custodial parent.

Establishing Parental Rights
The most effective method of establishing parental rights is by confirmation through a DNA analysis of the potential father and the child. Women do not always need to go through this initial step, as the mother of a child is usually obvious. However, there are instances when women will need to legally re-establish parental rights. Documented medical evidence can also support the claim. It is common for contemporary courts to assign custodial parent status to the father, and mothers who have lost their parental rights can still petition the custodial parent and request reinstatement of parental rights from the court. Males can also follow this procedure when they want to establish paternity, which the court normally will allow as a preliminary discovery to evaluate case validity.

Establishing Visitation
In some states, establishing visitation schedules and parenting time involves the general procedure of filing a form with the court, which is then handled by the state child support division. Child support and visitation rights do not necessarily go hand in hand because child support is a legal requirement, while visitation is not quite that simple. Courts can assign supervised visitation, especially in situations when the child does not welcome a visit from the new parent. After the connection is made between the child and the biological parent, the custodial parent and the courts can allow a "parenting time" schedule between the parties. The changing family dynamic in the United States has meant that states view the family unit differently, and that the rights of the children are also more closely evaluated.

Retain an Attorney
The rules for establishing visitation and parental rights often have slight variations among the states. This can be especially complicated when biological parents live in different locations as distance can be a primary factor in any decision on visitation and parenting schedules. The court currently wants to focus on the responsibilities associated with being a parent instead of just enforcing a visitation schedule through a court order. It is important for all parties involved in a child support and visitation civil case to be agreeable for a successful outcome. Having an attorney can help show the court how serious the petitioning biological parent actually is about establishing parental rights.

Just like with any other legal case, if the parties do not act like adults, then the court will treat the adults as children. The states are very serious about child support collections and enforcing the responsibilities of all parents, regardless of gender. For too many years, rights of the children were not necessarily respected in the divorce courts, as the children do not have lawyers in most cases. When the courts deal only with the rights of the parents, the rights of the children can get overlooked. Compliance with court orders can be crucial to maintaining rights after they have been established.

Have a question? Ask Justipedia here.

View all questions from Justipedia.

Connect with us

Justipedia on Linkedin
Justipedia on Linkedin
Tweat cdn.justipedia.com
"Justipedia" on Twitter

Sign up for Justipedia's Free Newsletter!


  • Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christianity without hell.

    - Frank Borman