Taking care of a child, or many children, can be expensive. This is particularly true for parents who raise their children singularly, and have to bear the weight of the costs by themselves. However, the court permits custodial parents to seek financial support from the other through mandated payments. While the process can seem intimidating, it may be needed in order to provide for children in the way they need to be cared for. As a child support lawyer parents depend on from the Law Office of Daniel E. Stuart, P.A. would advise clients, here are four tips to consider for your child support case.
#1 File Early
If you are filing for child support for the first time, then you have to do so as soon as you know you need it. Depending on state law, you may or may not be permitted retroactive child support for past needs. These retroactive payments cannot be fulfilled if the order was not filed. Thus, the custodial parent who requests child support early on is more likely to receive the assistance they need over a longer period of time.
#2 Be Transparent
The judge will be deciding what the child support payments are based on the financial situation of each parent, in addition to the income of the noncustodial parent, among other factors. By being honest about your finances, it can show you have nothing to hide, and that your requests are genuine. If you are transparent, it is the best way to ensure that you will get the payments you need and are entitled to receive. Documents to show your lawyer, such as a team member from the Law Office of Daniel E. Stuart, P.A., to prove income and costs include:
- Medical premiums, receipts, and copays for child
- Expenses for a child’s basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, etc.)
- Income from employer or from self-employment
- Tax return from past few years
- Recent pay stubs that reflect your typical earnings
- Costs for necessities of living (such as rent, mortgage, groceries, etc.)
#3 Show Cooperation
The judge will pay attention to how cooperative each parent is during the child support deliberation. It can be challenging to be amicable with the other parent, even more so when it comes to money matters. Most judges want to make sure parents are doing their best to provide for the child and that they are putting their own opinions or feelings aside. Ultimately, the court will prioritize what is in the best interest of the child.
#4 Use The Court
Keep in mind that even if the court enacts a child support order, the other parent may be resistant in fulfilling these payments. The court has the power and means to enforce these payments through garnishing that parent’s paychecks, suspending their driver’s license, or sentencing them to time in jail. Attempting to enforce an order by yourself without court assistance may prove unsuccessful, or make your life more stressful than it needs to be.