Child support is one of those things that is just as complicated or even more complicated than an actual divorce, primarily because child support can be something that is somewhat unexpected, as in it was not a planned event, which will still carry with it long-term lasting repercussions for all parties involved, including the primary responsibility of taking care of the child itself. For instance, if you are married for five years, and get divorced, it is reasonable to expect that any alimony payments would terminate at or around five years, and unreasonable to believe that they would extend for eighteen years, whereas for child support it is common or typical that the non-custodial parent will be responsible for a certain financial portion of that child's upbringing until that child becomes legally an adult at 18, or the completion of high school by age 19, whichever is later. Additionally, in cases to which the partners are not married, there is no spousal support at all, with each party essentially retaining their own personal property and making arrangements to divide fairly communal property. However, in regards to child support, the relationship between the parents can range in intimacy from as little as a one-night stand, to having a relationship briefly, to living together, to being married, with the entire attendant nuances of relationships in-between these basic categories applicable too.
While each of the fifty states has their own set of basic rules in regards to child support, the general principles are essentially the same, which is that the child requires a certain degree of financial amount of support each year, which is formulated based on the parents' respective incomes minus other considerations as established by each state, with the judge having discretion to award more or less depending upon particular circumstances. While it certainly isn't mandatory to go to court to establish or to receive child support, if both parties agree to something that is equitable, in many cases one of the parents does go to court, and thereafter the court's decision will be binding by law.
The courtroom decision in regards to child support is something that has long-term lasting ramifications that are not easily amended, and consequences that may not be pleasant for those that are unable or unwilling to adhere to the court's ruling, consequently it behooves those that are involved in child support cases to spend the money upfront to obtain a competent family attorney before the initial groundwork is laid in regards to the child support setup and payments. The most responsible way to look at a court's decision is to recognize that in most cases the court has made an impregnable decision that you are legally obligated to adhere to, whether your lifestyle, your livelihood, or your circumstances change for the better or for the worse, so that if you lose your job, become shiftless or worse, this will not mitigate against the court taking all responsible actions that they deem fit to compel or to punish you for your failure to make or adhere to your child support obligations.
Child support is a part of family law, to which the courts try to provide a fair and equitable solution that is reasonable for all the parties involved, taking into account that one of the parties, the child, should not be a victim or a casualty of the vicissitudes of a failed adult relationship. It is also a reminder that adults have both a legal as well as a moral obligation to take care of their own offspring, and to a certain meaningful extent, to put their child's welfare ahead of their own.