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When there is a divorce, a child support agent ensures that the parents are paying for their child’s needs by creating and upholding child support agreements. Working in this field requires analytical thinking, the ability to multitask and an understanding of the legal processes. While many people may think of these workers as social workers, the job duties and skills are more similar to those of legal assistants. Most of these positions are found in local and state governments.
Working with child support attorneys and family services, child support agents make sure that children receive the proper financial support to encourage health and well-being. They enforce the child support requirements and make sure that the parent is paying the set amount. This can include in-depth investigation and preparation for court cases by interviewing one or both parents, acquiring payroll and property information and filing the appropriate applications and forms with the court.
A Day in the Life
The day in the life of a child support agent can vary from spending the day at the court house to spending the day in the office investigating cases, making calls, collecting information and evaluating income. They conduct initial reviews of child support cases, verify paternity, enforce medical orders and locate absent parents. A child support agent also monitors payment performance and reviews payment records, ensuring that parents are meeting their obligations using any legal means necessary, including wage freezes and tax offset programs.
Since child support agents wear many hats, they must be exceptional multitaskers with the ability to pay attention to small details. They must comprehend complex rules and understand the court system and legal proceedings. Since the well-being of children is in their hands, they must be reliable and a possess a strong work ethic. The ability to communicate easily with the public and professionals alike, as well as basic computer skills are also a must. Knowledge of child support regulations, and the systems and processes used in the child support services department, is also helpful.
The level of education necessary varies based on the state; however, it can range from professional law enforcement experience to an associate or bachelor’s degree. A degree in legal assisting or administration is most common. Additionally, experience in investigative procedures and legal work is also a plus. The level of experience can vary from one year working in child support, family law or collections to as much as three years.
Michigan-based Jennifer Betts has been writing and editing education and career articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared on several educational training websites and blogs. She graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design and a minor in English. Betts’ first writing job was working as a ghostwriter creating list articles for blogs.