A child support action is a civil lawsuit — just like a suit to recover damages from a car accident. It is begun with legal paperwork that identifies the type and basis for the lawsuit and asks for a court judgment of parentage and for support. The legal paperwork is delivered to the parent in person (by mail with return receipt, if out-of-state). Once delivered, the parent must file a response (“answer”) to contest the lawsuit. If no response is filed, a default judgment will be entered which will include a finding of parentage and an order for support. If the response is filed, the lawsuit will proceed with both sides required to exchange evidence and to attempt settlement by agreement. If an agreement is reached, the court will enter it as a judgment. If no settlement is reached, a court trial may be held. After the trial, the Court will make the final orders.
Other legal processes include motions and other notices and requests that are filed with court in order to process modifications, additional orders, request for contempt, as well as requests for a variety of other child support related orders. The need for legal action varies from case to case and will be discussed with both parties when such a need arises.