Whether you are going through a divorce or just separating from your partner, you’ll need to make child support arrangements for any children that you share. The few tips listed below will help you successfully navigate the system.
Determine Who Will Have Primary Custody
Primary custody does not mean sole custody. It simply refers to the parent the child will spend the majority of their time with. For example, if a child spends school days with mom and weekends with dad, then the mother would be listed as the primary custodian, even though both parents are sharing joint custody. This is one factor the judge will look at when determining monetary support obligations.
Prepare an Income Statement
Another factor in deciding the amount of funds to be set aside for the care of a child is how much each parent currently makes at his or her job. The judge will want to see evidence, so take the time to create an income statement that accurately reflects your wages.
Seek Legal Representation
Although you can file for child support without hiring a lawyer, it is not recommended. Seeking legal counsel is the best way to ensure that your child gets adequate support if you are the primary custodian. On the other side, an attorney is knowledgeable about how much money is fair so that you don’t end up paying above what is reasonable.
Make Adjustments if Necessary
An order of support is not set in stone. If either party experiences a change in income, or one parent begins to take over the majority of the care of the child, an adjustment can be made. Your lawyer can help you get an adjustment if one is warranted.
An Order Doesn’t Necessarily Stop at Age 18
It is a common assumption that child support stops once a minor turns 18, however, this is not always the case. The order can actually remain in effect until a child finishes school, which includes up to five years in college. There are other exceptions to this as well, such as a child who suffers from a disability that renders him or her unable to work.
Take Steps to Enforce the Order
Should the non-custodial parent fail to pay the amount ordered by the judge, there are steps you can take to have the child support agreement enforced. First, you can call the case manager that has been assigned to you and request a delinquency notice. Second, if the delinquency notice is not heeded, you can request a warrant for non-payment of support. Keep in contact with your case manager, and remember that he or she is there to work on behalf of your son or daughter.
Laws are changing all the time, so it is important that you check with your legal representative before requesting aid from the court system. Also, your lawyer will better be able to explain to you the complex formulas used by courts to determine the monetary amounts sufficient for the raising of your child.