When Do I Need a Child Support Lawyer?
According to the law, parents have a responsibility to provide support to their biological and adopted children. In cases where the parents are not together, the non-custodial parent must provide financial support for a child’s basic needs. With joint custody, one parent may owe if they earn a higher income.
A lawyer is not required to seek child support or arrange terms when separating or divorcing, but it is highly recommended. Even when parents have the best intentions to work together for their children’s best interests, negotiations can get messy. Having a lawyer represent you is the best way to get a good outcome. Consider seeking out a child support lawyer in these situations:
- You and the other parent are separating and must determine custody arrangements and financial support.
- You have tried to arrange child support but cannot agree.
- Your child was born out of wedlock, and you need child support from the biological father or mother.
- You don’t know how much support you should request.
- You have to go to a court hearing for child support.
- You don’t know where the other parent is or how to find them to seek child support.
- You need to prove paternity to seek child support.
- The other parent has hired a lawyer to represent them.
- There are complications, such as parents living in different states or the other parent trying to prove you are unfit.
You may have the best intentions of navigating the system amicably but having a lawyer to represent you is always the best option. Your situation may change or become complicated, and emotions may get in the way of a sensible agreement. Remember that decisions made now can impact you and your child for years, so getting all the help you can is important.
What Will a Child Support Lawyer Do for Me?
A child support lawyer will represent you and advocate for the best interest of your child. Regardless of your particular situation or where you are in the process, a lawyer can help you.
These are just some examples of how a child support lawyer can help you:
- Explain the process.
The first thing a lawyer will do to help you is explain the process of seeking child support. Laws vary by state, and it can be confusing if you have no experience. Dedicated child support lawyers have been here before and will help you understand your options and rights.
- Take you through the steps.
Once you understand the process, you’ll still need to go through all the steps. Your lawyer will guide you through this often-confusing system to ensure you don’t make mistakes.
- Determine an amount.
Many parents underestimate what they need or what is reasonable to ask for in child support. Your lawyer will be able to estimate a fair amount based on the calculation they know the court would make.
- Advocate for you and your child.
The point of child support proceedings is to meet the needs of your child. A lawyer is your advocate in this pursuit, looking out for the best interests of your child. They will be by your side if the other parent tries to attack your fitness as a parent or refute child support amounts.
- Modify current agreements.
Child support is not set in stone. If situations change for you or the other parent, you may need to modify payments. Your lawyer can help you do this.
- Assist in custody negotiations.
A child support lawyer typically also helps parents with custody disputes or negotiations. If you and the other parent cannot agree on custody, your lawyer will represent you and help set up an arrangement that works best for the child.
How to Find a Child Support Lawyer
Getting what your child needs is one of the most important things you will ever do, so choosing the right lawyer is essential. Look for an attorney or a firm specializing in family law and child support cases. You need someone with this experience and expertise to provide the best advocacy.
With divorce so prevalent, you probably know another parent who has been through this situation. A great way to get a lawyer you can trust is through a referral from a friend or family member. As you make your selection, take a little time to talk with each lawyer and ask important questions:
- How much experience do you have with child support cases?
- Do you represent the non-custodial parent?
- Can you provide referrals from past clients and examples of successful outcomes?
- What do you think I should do next?
- How much do you think I can get in child support?
- What challenges do you see with my case?
- Do you think we can negotiate successfully, or will this end in a lawsuit?
- Will you handle my case, or will it be someone else in the firm?
- What are your fees, and how do you handle payments?
What Does My Child Support Lawyer Need from Me?
Your lawyer will guide you through this process, but they also need your help and cooperation. Child support amount calculations take into account several factors. Your lawyer will need to know:
- How much you earn if you work at all
- The other parent’s income
- Your child’s expenses for school, healthcare, housing, food, clothing, and activities
- Any special needs or expenses your child has, such as a disability or therapy
- The standard of living to which your child is accustomed
You will also need to supply information on any special circumstances that may affect your case. For instance, tell them about any criminal record you or the other parent has, a history of domestic violence, and other issues.
Working with a child support lawyer is almost always necessary when parents split and must reconcile support for a child. A lawyer will help you make the best arrangements for your child as quickly as possible.