I desperately need child support, after having separated from my child's father. How soon can I be awarded child support by the court?

Even though generally there is a preliminary process before adversarial proceedings can begin at the family court, to allow the opportunity for a mediated solution, child support is an exception, and regarded as an urgent form of relief that a mother may file for straightaway, when opening  a file for dispute resolution at the family court, under the new law and procedures, which came into force in July 2016. Once you file for child support, the father has 10 days to file his response, after he is served with the papers. Both of you are supposed to support your arguments with documentation, and the court can decide, immediately after the 10-day period is up, on the basis of the written material before it, even without a hearing, and even if the father  does not respond, providing you prove that he was served with the papers.