Does child support have to be paid through the enforcement agency, or can my ex pay me directly?
Your ex can pay you directly if that is an arrangement that you both can live with. Before you make that decision, consider that if payments are made by wage withholding you will have a clear payment record through the CSE(Child Support Enforcement) office, payments won't be delayed by the mail, and you avoid the possibility of money falling into the arrears by an ex who does not pay because wage withholdings are automatic. As long as the obligor keeps their job, you will receive child support. Having a wage withholding is beneficial for the payor as well due to some reports of payee not reporting the actual amount of support received.
Do I need a lawyer to petition for child support?
Having an attorney is not a requisite when petitioning for child support. If you can afford the benefit of hiring one - which may be costly - then it is always recommended that you do so. However, you may always represent yourself in court, or use one of many creative ways of hiring an attorney which may cost you nothing at all, or the bare minimum in up front fees.
What is the difference between alimony and child support?
Alimony is a sum of money paid each month to a former spouse for their direct benefit. It could be used in a rehabilitative sense so that the receiver can go back to school to further enhance a career or change careers, or it can be used to keep the receiver up to the standard of living which they have been accustomed to, by being married to their former spouse. Child support is an amount of money paid to the custodial parent for the care of the children that were born to the payor and the payee.