Child Support Documents You'll Need

Single mom filing for child support online while sitting at table with her son
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Filing for child support is anything but simple. Being prepared with the right documents can save you time, money, and stress. Child support application requirements vary from state to state, but only slightly. Learn which documents you need to file for child support in your state.

The Child Support Application Process

Each state has their own process to apply for child support. To start, you need to create an account with your state's Department of Human Services or Department of Child Services. To find the link to apply for child support where you live, visit the Office of Child Support Enforcement online.

Most states allow and even encourage applicants to complete and submit the necessary documents online. The application includes identifying information for you, the other parent, and the child(ren) for whom you are applying.

There is usually a small fee to submit an application. In New Jersey, for example, it costs $6 to file for child support services. If you prefer, you can usually download the application and either email it, mail it, or drop it off in person to your local county child support office.

If you are receiving government assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid, you probably do not need to apply for child support. The state will likely pursue it on your behalf. (However, always contact your local child support office to confirm that's the case.)

Essential Child Support Documents

Whether you're filing for child support services for the first time, requesting an official child support modification, or just updating your current contact information, as the petitioner, you'll want to have the following documents ready and available.

  • 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
  • The other parent's contact information or any information you have regarding their current address or place of employment

Depending on the method and the status of your application, you will either submit scanned copies of these documents securely online or print or mail or drop off paper copies to your local child support office. Some states require original documents. Again, check with your local office for specific guidelines in your area.

Helpful Child Support Documents

There are a number of additional documents that may also be helpful when you file for child support. If the following are available and pertain to your child support case, you should plan to bring them to every appointment at your local child support agency or have them handy if you are completing an online application:

  • 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

Prepare for Your Appointment

After you file for child support, your local child support office begins the process of locating the other parent, establishing parentage, creating the child support order, and finally, routing the funds to the parent receiving support.

Occasionally, the child support office may require an in-person appointment to discuss your application or request additional information. Do your homework upfront 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. When you call to schedule the appointment, ask the case worker exactly what you need to bring. If you forget the necessary paperwork, you'll potentially stall your case and have to wait longer for child support.

In addition to bringing the necessary documentation with you (originals whenever possible), 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I file for child support?

To file for child support, contact the child support office in your county to obtain an application. In most states, you can also fill out and submit the child support application via email or online portal. Or, you can download the application and send it through the mail or drop it off in person at your local child support office. For information on the child support process in your state visit the Office of Child Support Enforcement

What documents do I need for child support modification?

To change an existing child support order in most states, you must prove there has been a significant change of circumstances for you, the other parent, or your child that warrants a chance in child support payments.

The change in circumstances could be a drastic rise or drop in income, a remarriage, a relocation, a health crisis, or changes in the child's needs and expenses for their care. Documentation would be anything proving this change of circumstances: pay stubs, medical records, or tuition bills, for example.

How long do I keep child support documents?

It's recommended that both custodial and non-custodial parents hold on to child support paperwork permanently for identification purposes, for family members to reference, and to document family events as needed.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. New Jersey Department of Human Services. Applying for Child Support Services.

  2. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Office of Child Support Enforcement. What documents do I need to bring to the child support office?.

  3. Colorado State University. Your Important Papers: What, Why, and How Long to Keep.

By Jennifer Wolf
Jennifer Wolf is a PCI Certified Parent Coach and a strong advocate for single moms and dads.