Ask a Divorce Lawyer: Why did the court order me to pay child support to the mother when the child doesn’t live with her?

Question: The father resides in Georgia, the child support case is in Florida. The child lives with the grandmother, the father pays $200 a month to grandmother. 

The mother of the child decides she wants to collect child support even though the child does not reside with her and she does not have legal custody of the child. She files for support with no proof of residence where the child lives. The court orders the father to pay $400 a month to the mother when the child does not live with the mother. 

How can this happen? How do we fix it?



Answer: My first question is what state ordered the $400 per month to the mother?  If you have not done so already, contact the child support enforcement agency located in the county where the support was ordered to alert them to the situation; they may or may not be of any help.  You should then contact a domestic litigation attorney licensed in that state to address this new Order for support. 

She may have fraudulently petitioned the court for support or she may have received state benefits fraudulently claiming that she had placement of the child and as a result, the county child support agency may have filed the support order on her behalf.  Either way, it exists and you have to do address the Order immediately to prevent wage garnishment or other means of enforcement.  You should have been notified of the hearing on any motion for support, but unfortunately, many states allow a letter to be sent to the father’s last known address which may be an address where you have never resided.

When discussing the case with an attorney licensed in the state where the Order originated, you should be sure to provide him or her with a copy of the original Order which details the custody, placement and support arrangements and any letters or notifications you have received regarding the new Order. 


Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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