Q: does custody need to be established before child support can be set
There is not enough detail in your question to provide a specific answer. The first variable is whether the parents of the child(ren) are married to each other. If the parents are not married to each other, then the mother has sole custody of the child(ren) unless/until there is a court order establishing a different custody arrangement; however, she can seek to establish child support through DSS without any court order.
If the parents are married to each other, then generally, custody and visitation (also referred to as a parenting schedule) should be determined before child support can be calculated. However, even without a set parenting schedule, you can identify a reasonable range of likely child support obligations.
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