To be really accurate, almost every one of these answers would have to be "It depends..."  Law is complicated.   Please use the information below as a starting point for discussions with your lawyer!

I recently broke up with my fiancé.  I want to file for child support and to legitimize our two children.  We need a plan as far as visitation. Where do I start?

Your starting point is to call my office for a free consultation.  I can give you a course of action depending on the circumstances and your budget.  If you don’t have money for a lawyer, there are free forms and, possibly, pro bono attorneys that can help. 

If you are the mom, you can only file for child support - only the dad can file a legitimation case. You should file a case for child support, no matter what is promised by the father. I've heard too many stories of men promising the world to thier child's mother "just as long as you drop the child support case." These promises usually don't come true. You can always give the money back to the father if you don't need it, or put it into college savings for the children. 

Keep careful records of funds given by the father and of your expenses for the children. Also record the time he spends with the kids. 

If you are the dad, the answer is more complicated. If the mother is letting you spend enough time with the children, my advice would be to forget the legitimation case - the court WILL impose child support as part of a legitimation. 

You can always give the mom funds if she needs them, but, without an order for child support, no one will put you in jail for not paying. DO give her some money every 30 days - otherwise you are vulnerable to an abandonment charge. 

Keep careful records of funds the funds you give the mother and of your expenses for the children. Also record the time you spend with the kids. This will help in a possible future custody action. 

My general rules for men are: #1 DON'T let your child's mother find out about another woman, and #2, if you don't have a receipt for child support, you didn't pay. Keep those receipts forever.

My child's other parent has custody, but left the child with me.  I stopped paying child support.  Do I have to pay arrears for child support for time I had the child?

  • Yes, most courts say that a noncustodial parent is not entitled to credit for voluntary expenditures.  (Daniel v. Daniel, 1977)
  •  But, In Daniel, and in Jackson v. Sanders, 2015, courts have said that an equitable exception may apply where a father "..has discontinued child support payments while he had the care and custody of the children and supported them at the mother's request"
    • Remember "equitable" means "fair," so all the circumstances of the case will be important.