Coordinating Parenting Time and Child Support: Experiences and Lessons Learned from Three States (Issue Brief)
- In most jurisdictions, parenting time establishment is a separate legal process from child support order establishment and enforcing parenting time is the responsibility of local-level courts.
- There is limited funding available to do the work required to establish and enforce parenting time.
- Localities often do not track the establishment and enforcement of parenting time, leaving large gaps in information that could be used to answer key policy questions.
From a legal perspective, parenting time and child support are two separate issues for never-married parents. Nonetheless, parenting time is strongly related to the child support program: many states consider the time that parents spend with their children when they set the amount of the child support order. However, the process of developing, implementing, and enforcing parenting time orders at the state and local levels is not well established. Moreover, there is little information available on the costs of and funding for services related to parenting time orders. This brief draws on interviews with representatives from state- and local-level child support programs and court systems, and with mediation service providers from three states about how parenting time orders are implemented in practice and what lessons they have learned. This brief highlights local practices for establishing and enforcing parenting time orders and key policy implications and considerations.