Know Which Documents You Need to File for Child Support

Mixed race mother holding baby and paying bills
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Filing for child support is anything but simple. Even when you start the process online, many states require you to show up in person at your local Office of Child Support Enforcement to officially file your child support paperwork. While this process is time-consuming, and often frustrating, knowing up front how to the answer to the often-asked "What do I need to file for child support?" question will help. Here's the answer you need: 

Documents to Bring When You File for Child Support

Whether you're headed to your local child support agency to file for child support services for the first time, to request an official child support modification, or to update your current contact information, as the petitioner, you'll want to bring the following documents with you:

  • A valid photo ID, such as your driver's license or up-to-date passport
  • Proof of your address, such as a recent rent receipt, mortgage statement, or utility bill
  • Birth certificate(s) for the children for whom you are seeking child support
  • Your ex's contact information or any information you have regarding his or her current address or place of employment

Planning for Your Appointment

Do your homework up front by visiting the website for your state's Office of Child Support Enforcement. There, you will learn when the office opens and closes, anything else you need to file for child support, and whether it is possible to schedule an appointment in advance. If this is feasible, take advantage of it, as it could shorten your wait time significantly when the day of your appointment arrives.

Additional Documents to Support Your Case

There are a number of additional documents that may also be helpful when you file for child support. For example, if the following documents are available and pertain to your child support case, you should plan to bring them to every appointment at your local child support agency:

  • Proof of paternity such as an affidavit or the results of a DNA test
  • Social Security cards for yourself and each of your children
  • Proof of income, such as recent pay stubs and/or W-2 forms
  • Evidence of recent child support payments and/or arrears statements
  • Existing child support orders for each of your children, including any Uniform Support Petition documentation and/or a Notice of Determination of Controlling Order
  • Your divorce decree, if applicable
  • Additional financial documentation, including evidence of a real estate or personal property you own

Getting Through Your Appointment

In addition to bringing the necessary documentation with you when you file for child support, make sure you also consider your practical needs. Especially if you'll have your kids in tow, you'll want to pack lots of snacks, something to drink, and a few engaging activities. For example, pack a bag full of coloring books, crayons, and travel games to keep your kiddos occupied. If possible, try not to rely on your phone for entertainment. (If anything, save it as a last resort if the appointment takes longer than expected.) And if all else fails, play a few rounds of "I Spy." It's a fan favorite that can be surprisingly engaging in a pinch!