Child & Spousal Support

Defining Support
The term support is usually defined as money paid by an individual in order to help provide food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities for his or her dependents. The term dependents refers to the spouse and/or children that a person is legally bound to support. 

In domestic relations, support can refer to two separate financial obligations:
  • Child support - Defined as support and medical coverage for dependent children.
  • Spousal support - Defined as support for a dependent spouse provided when the parties are married, but living apart.

Alimony Pendente Lite (APL)
Alimony Pendente Lite (APL) is when the dependent spouse is asking for support in connection with a divorce. A dependent spouse is one who can prove that he or she lacks the ability to earn enough income because of lack of skills, lack of education, ill health, or the responsibility of taking care of young children. The dependent spouse is entitled to support at a level equal to the standard of living that he or she had during the marriage, if the other spouse’s finances are sufficient to provide this.

Medical Coverage & Other Expenses
There are other types of support besides money which may be requested during a support action. The plaintiff, who is the person filing for support, may request that medical and hospital coverage for him/herself and their children be provided by the defendant, who is the person being asked to pay support. This request is limited by the kind of coverage available and its cost to the defendant.

A plaintiff may request that the defendant help contribute toward all medical, dental, and prescription expenses not covered by insurance. The defendant may be required to pay for a share of day care expenses for the children, which would allow the plaintiff to work or attend school.

Plaintiffs receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits will, by law, be considered as non-cooperative if they are unable to provide information sufficient to serve notice on the defendant or to proceed under the Federal Parent Locate System.

Review of a Support Order
According to federal regulations, you are entitled to (have a right to) a review of your case once every three years. Parties may request a review of their order every three years, to determine if a change in their order would be proper. You must file a petition to request a three-year review. If your case is eligible, you may have to come to a conference.