22 Mar The Benefits of Hiring a Child Support Attorney
The state of Washington regards child support as the dual responsibility of both parents. The state determines the amount of child support required based on parental income. Then, the court will look at all sources of verified income to determine the total amount of combined income. From there, the court determines an appropriate amount of support.
Even in the most amicable divorces where ex-spouses collaborate on co-parenting, child support can become a contentious issue. The benefits of hiring a child support attorney become clear when parents disagree about the children’s needs, the amount of income that should count toward the child support calculation, and even whether ex-partners have honestly reported all their income.
New relationships, such as remarriage, and changes in circumstances, such as job changes, also can complicate the child support calculation. There are many good reasons to hire a child support attorney to represent you when divorce proceedings come to the issue of determining child support.
Protecting Your Interests When Your Ex Has a Lawyer
One of the best and most obvious benefits of hiring a child support attorney is you level the field when your ex has a lawyer. Experienced family law practitioners can translate the legalese that might come from your ex’s lawyer, and they will know when the other side pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable.
Additionally, facing your ex-spouse’s lawyer on your own can be stressful. You may wonder whether they have your children’s best interests in mind or whether your ex is being honest about their sources of income. Hiring a child support lawyer can give you confidence that they are addressing these issues.
When making decisions about your children’s well-being and what is best for them, “negotiating” may feel unseemly. However, you may need help identifying all the factors that should go into a child support agreement during the complex process of ending a marriage. It is your lawyer’s job to develop a child support agreement that is fair, places your children’s interests first, and holds both parents accountable for providing for their children.
Knowledge of Applicable Law
The law can change with a single court’s decision, setting a new precedent for how you interpret a statute or regulation. Or the state legislature can pass an amendment that alters procedures or factors.
Courts also have some discretion to decide, for example, which income should count toward a child support calculation. Your lawyer can argue on your behalf about whether any such exclusion is fair.
Ensuring Benefit for Your Child
All court officers must follow the law and act within its bounds. The primary consideration in any child support agreement must be the best interests of the child or children. A child support attorney can ensure that the court addresses any special or changing circumstances, like transferring to a new school, the need for tutoring or special education services, and the growing children’s comfort.
Children should receive enough support to maintain a lifestyle that is at least equivalent to the one they had before the divorce.
Calculations and Investigations
Unfortunately, there is disagreement about how to calculate each parent’s fair share of child support in some child support proceedings. There may even be suspicion that one ex-spouse is hiding sources of income in an attempt to improperly reduce their share of child support costs.
A child support attorney knows how to ask the court to compel parents to disclose sources of income and consider financial support that parents may receive from remarriage, employment, and income-generating investments. Taxes and debt may also figure into the calculation of how much each parent should contribute.
The legal process can be infuriatingly detailed, and what seem like minor mistakes can have major impacts. Missing a filing deadline by a day or even minutes can derail the entire proceeding. Miscalculations, missing signatures, or submitting information in the wrong format can all impact how the court views the agreement. Also, it affects how they see your ability to responsibly comply with court procedures, deadlines, and paperwork requirements. When you have a child support attorney, all this becomes their job, not yours.
Understanding of Your Local State Courts
Courts in various counties can have different procedures or discretionary ways of doing things. Your lawyer will understand them, but you may not. Lawyers know the quirks of individual judges because they routinely appear before them. When you have a lawyer speaking for you, you do not have to worry about inadvertently irritating a judge or accidentally pushing buttons that promise to elicit an outsized reaction.
Future Planning and College Costs
Kids grow up. Paying for college is something most parents begin thinking about almost as soon as their children are born. But when your children reach 18, are you entitled to help pay for post-secondary education? You may be, but you should ask the court to decide before the issue becomes critical.
Timing is everything when considering post-secondary support. A child support attorney will help you settle the matter before an existing child support agreement expires.
Just as children grow up, their parents’ lives evolve, too. Job changes, unemployment, remarriage, selling off assets, and medical challenges all affect a parent’s ability to pay child support. Unfortunately, sometimes a parent who can pay their fair share does not do so.
When expected child support payments do not arrive, it can have a major impact on a child’s quality of life. In such circumstances, you may have to ask for the court’s help in enforcing an existing child support agreement.
These proceedings can be contentious. The parent who is not paying will argue that they should not have to and present new facts or circumstances that they believe absolve them of the responsibility to pay. They may perceive the effort to collect past due child support as unnecessarily punitive. A child support attorney can keep the proceedings focused on compliance with the existing agreement.
That is why it is particularly important to learn the benefits of hiring a child support attorney. Among child support lawyers in Washington state, LaCoste Law, PLLC, is a family law practice with experience in all aspects of divorce, child custody, and child support. Contact LaCoste Law today to discuss representation for child support issues.