As a child support lawyer who parents trust can tell you, child support arrangements are often a main point of contention during or after a divorce. In many cases, a divorce will have a significant impact on the children involved. This impact is not only emotional, it is also financial. Child support payments are intended to ensure that the children’s well being is taken care of even after the marriage ends. If you live in the state of Virginia and are concerned about current or future child support payments, a child support lawyer in Arlington VA from May Law, LLP could help.
What is Child Support?
Child support is an ongoing payment that is typically made by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. The weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly payments are meant to assist in the maintenance and wellbeing of the child. Every state has its own child support laws and guidelines, but most agree that the child of divorced parents should not be deprived of what they received before the divorce. A child support lawyer Arlington VA locals recommend from our firm can provide you with more information about what the court will expect based on your circumstances.
How Child Support Payments Are Determined
In the event of a divorce or legal separation, the parents will have the opportunity to reach a mutual agreement on child support. If this is not possible, the court will formulate a fair amount. If at anytime a parent is not meeting the financial needs of the child, a judge has the right to impose a court order for child support. This cannot be rejected by the parents. However, a child support lawyer can advocate on your behalf. Factors that might be used to determine the amount of child support include:
- Earning capacity and disposable income
- A parent’s standard of living
- Tax filing statuses
- Personal circumstances
- Costs of healthcare and education
- Visitation travel
- The time in which a parent spends with the child
- What child support payments will pay for is dependent upon your unique situation. A child support lawyer can explain these nuances to you and help you to make the right decisions that is best for you and your child.
Enforcing a Child Support Order
If your former partner is late on paying child support, you might find yourself struggling to provide for your child. Stress can take over and you can become overwhelmed if the payments are inconsistent. You have several different options in enforcing missed child support payments.
Department of Social Services and Department of Child Support Enforcement: Single custodial parents might have a harder time collecting child support payments if they cannot locate the delinquent parent or if this parent refuses to acknowledge paternity. In these cases, custodial parents can turn to these two government departments for help. These departments may help to locate a parent who has disappeared in order to avoid paying child support, conduct tests to prove paternity, and even modify existing child support orders if necessary. If your child’s other parent moves out of Arlington VA without informing you, these departments can work with other states’ departments to make sure that the parent pays all necessary child support payments.
Wage Garnishment: Many child support orders are created with certain protections for the parent who is receiving payments. An income withholding order (IWO) is one way that the courts can offer protection — and many courts create child support agreements with IWOs already included. If a parent stops sending child support payments voluntarily, an IWO allows the court to garnish this parent’s wages and redirect the money to the custodial parent.
Enforcement Action: An enforcement action is a court proceeding that allows the custodial parent to ask the judge for a court order against a delinquent parent. As the custodial parent, you have the option of representing yourself in court, but many individuals choose to seek representation from a child support lawyer.
There are many ways that the court (or the government department helping a custodial parent) can compel a delinquent parent to pay court-ordered child support. Many of these strategies go beyond simply garnishing wages. For example, the court may take payments out of Social Security checks or tax refunds, seize assets from the delinquent parent (such as savings accounts), report the delinquent parent to credit bureaus, or have the parent’s license suspended until they pay for the child support that they owe.
If you have repeatedly attempted to collect child support from the noncustodial parent and your requests have been ignored, a court may just take action and order them to serve time in jail for missing payments. Even though missing a child support payment can be punishable by jail time, many courts understand that putting a child support provider behind bars will only worsen the custodial parent’s financial situation. This is why jail time is usually a last ditch effort by judges.
It’s important to remember that child visitation rights and child support payments are completely different things. A delinquent parent cannot argue that he/she should not have to pay child support if the custodial parent (or a judge) does not allow him/her to visit the child.
When Changes in Life Occur
Lifestyle changes may occur which could affect your child support schedule. It is possible to modify support schedules that match with your current income and other variables. If you have experienced a major change and can no longer agree to the arrangement made, call us as soon as possible so that we might petition the court on your behalf. Factors that may be used by the court to make a decision regarding a child support adjustment are:
- Increased educational or medical costs for the child
- One parent’s obligations to support another household
- Changed medical costs of the parent
- Contribution of either parent
- Extraordinary travel expenses for visitation or shared custody
May Law, LLP: Child Support Lawyers On Your Side
We know that child support matters can last for years following a divorce or legal separation. While you want what is best for your child, issues may arise that present challenges to meeting your legal obligations. Talk to an Arlington child support lawyer who understands. For a free case evaluation with a child support lawyer Arlington VA offers, call May Law.