Alabama

Your Rights to Collect Child Support: Get DHR on the Case!

Authored By: Legal Services Alabama LSC Funded

Information

What are DHR's obligations?

The Department of Human Resources (DHR) must try to obtain child support on behalf of any eligible person. Their responsibilities include:

  • locating the non-custodial parent
  • establishing paternity
  • obtaining a legally enforceable order for support
  • enforcing the order
  • collecting and monitoring payments
  • distributing the money
  • adjusting the amount of support

When DHR goes to court on your child support case, it will not help you get or keep custody. You may do so yourself.

Who is eligible?

  • Any caretaker of a child
  • You may not need a legal custody order
  • There are no income limits
  • Pregnant women may apply

If you get public assistance, DHR automatically refers your case for child support. You must cooperate to keep your grant, unless you have good cause. DHR keeps all but $50 a month of the child support collected, up to the amount of the public assistance payment.

If you don't get public assistance, you must pay a one-time fee for DHR services:

  • $5 for families with less than $10,000 income per year
  • $25 for families with more income

What should you bring with you to apply?

Bring something that proves you have responsibility for and control of the child.

Examples are:

  • the child's birth certificate, naming you as a parent
  • proof of guardianship or custody
  • your public housing lease showing the child in your household
  • a letter from Social Security stating you are the child's representative payee
  • a statement from the child's school stating that the child lives with you; or
  • other proof that you are the caretaker

How long should the process take?

Within 20 days of receiving an application, DHR must open the case and start looking for the non-custodial parent.

Within the next 75 days, DHR is supposed to find the non-custodial parent. If DHR fails, it must try again every 3 months.

Within 90 days of finding the non-custodial parent, DHR must file papers in court. If paternity has not already been established, the proceeding will establish paternity.

Within 60 days of filing, the case must be set for hearing.

Within 12 months of notifying the non-custodial parent, DHR must have most cases completed.

If a parent defaults on a child support order, DHR must take enforcement action within 30 to 60 days. You may be able to enforce a child support order yourself by asking the Court to garnish the other parent's wages or take other property.

As a general rule, DHR must distribute child support payments within 5 working days of receipt.

What if I am not happy with what DHR does?

You can request a fair hearing.

Reviewed May 2012


AlabamaLegalHelp.org offers legal information, not legal advice. We try hard to make sure this website accurately explains your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For this sort of legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call toll-free 1-866-456-4995. You can also apply online at intake.alsp.org.