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When To Hire a Child Support Lawyer

When parents share a child, they are responsible for important things like housing, food, clothing, and insurance. When those parents decide to divorce or split up, their legal responsibility to their child continues. Child support payments from one party to the other make sure the child continues to have their needs met.

Child Support Legal Issues

Even if one parent has custody of a child, both parents still have to provide for the child's needs. Court systems often order the non-custodial parent, the parent with whom the child spends less time, to pay child support. A child support obligation usually lasts until a child turns 18 or graduates from high school.

The issue of child support comes up in family law cases of divorce or child custody. The family court judge or the parents decide the amount of child support as part of their settlement agreement or court order, which will also divide their assets and may require payment of spousal support, known as alimony. In some states, there are child support guidelines that decide the child support amount.

When cases become difficult or contentious, many parents need an experienced child custody attorney or family lawyer to help them figure out child support issues.

Child support calculations can be very confusing because of the many factors involved. Courts look at the number of children, the cost of health insurance and child care, each parent's income, and the amount of time the children spend with each parent. This can be from a custody arrangement or a court order.

If one parent is self-employed, calculating child support can be an even more complicated case. Family law attorneys have experience working through these issues and state law.

Changes to Child Support Orders

Parents can ask for a court hearing if something has changed related to the original child support amount. It is important to get help from a child support attorney who can tell you if you should file for a child support modification.

If the person paying child support doesn't pay, you can ask to garnish their wages, also known as a wage withholding order.

When parents live in different states, enforcing child support can be tough. You may want to consider hiring an experienced attorney familiar with this situation to help you.

Terms to Know

  • Custodial Parent: the parent who has the child; usually receives child support
  • Non-Custodial Parent: the parent who does not have custody of a child; usually pays child support
  • Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA): a law passed by all 50 states that decides where and how parents can enforce child custody orders when they live in different states
  • Full Faith and Credit: a clause in the U.S. Constitution that requires states to recognize and enforce state court orders of other states
  • Divorce: the dissolution of a valid marriage
  • Arrears: overdue and unpaid child support payments

For more legal definitions, visit the FindLaw Legal Dictionary.

Other Considerations When Hiring a Child Support Lawyer

At times, garnishing a non-custodial parent's wages can be difficult.

When one parent wants to garnish the other parent's wages, both sides need legal help to make sure the paying parent's income is calculated correctly. This process is controlled by federal laws and regulations.

Parents involved in cases about child support sometimes forget why they are fighting. They should protect the well-being of the child under the child support laws of their state. Child support lawyers know this when trying to reach a child support agreement. This can be worked out with a child custody agreement, even if it is not binding on the court.

If you are facing a child support case, contact a child support lawyer immediately for legal advice about financial support for your child. You may also wish to consult a child custody lawyer in your child custody case to amend the original agreement and make a modification request. Experienced legal counsel can help you understand your rights. They're worth the legal fees.

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