Parents who are beside themselves with worry over the outcome of a child support hearing, can rely on the experience of a Child Support Lawyer in Arlington, VA at May Law, LLP. We have probably worked with clients just like yourself, who want what is best for their child or children. When it comes to child support cases, things can get tricky and tense very quickly, as the parents will have to dispute over their finances.
One parent is often awarded child support, particularly in situations where there is a vast discrepancy between earnings and the custodial parent needs help affording child necessities. We can help you fight for a fair amount that doesn’t put either parent into financial strain, yet still enables the child to get what he or she needs.
The Purpose of Child Support
Child support is a natural component to many divorces and custody agreements. When your child’s parent does not uphold their agreement, they are completely disregarding their child’s needs. There are a number of reasons for child support:
- To mitigate the impact a divorce may have on your child
- To help pay for your child’s expenses including:
- Living Expenses
- Medical Care
- Extra Curricular Activities
- Creating a fair agreement from the start can help ensure that you do not end up needing more money down the road
Despite your best efforts to obtain child support, your ex may never turn over a dime. We are empathetic and compassionate group of attorneys looking to help you obtain the child support you and your child are entitled to.
The Emotional Aspect of Child Support
As a VA Child Support Lawyer in Arlington 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, our legal team at May Law, LLP can be of support.
Child Support and How Amounts are Determined
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 in Arlington can provide you with more information about what the court will expect based on your circumstances.
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. 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. We 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. There are several different options in which you, the court, or another agency can enforce 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 the Virginia area without telling 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 in Virginia at May Law, LLP.
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.
Mistakes to Avoid During the Process
All too often a Virginia Child Support Lawyer in Arlington has seen clients make mistakes when preparing for their child support hearing. Perhaps the biggest error a parent can make is not obtaining legal counsel during this negotiation. Chances are, the other parent will be consulting with an attorney, so it is imperative that you do as well. We encourage parents to not commit the following as their child support dispute is being handled:
#1 Ignoring Mail Due to Stress or Confusion
Child custody proceedings can be immensely stressful and complex, so naturally some parents may want to ignore emails and standard mail for a couple days just to get a break. Parents may also become so frustrated with legal terminology that they toss important paperwork to the side to revisit later, but then never do. We recommend letting our team know if you have questions about an email or letter you receive in the mail about the child custody hearing, as we can provide clarity.
#2 Hiding Truths in Attempt to Get Ahead
Do not manipulate or stretch the truth on any information you fill out and submit to the courts. Do not minimize your earnings to make it seem like you cannot afford to pay into child support, and vise versa if you are the parent requesting monetary help. The court may have access to certain details about your earnings anyway, so it can reflect poorly if you aren’t transparent from the start.
#3 Showing Up Poorly Dressed or Late
Do not forget about how influential being properly dressed and on-time can be to your child support hearing. Leave your home way ahead of time so any unanticipated events (such as traffic or running out of gas) don’t cause you to be late. It is in your best interest to make a good first impression to the judge. You may even want to show up a little early, so you can take deep breaths and calm your nerves before the hearing begins.
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 a Child Support Lawyer in VA 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
When Emotions Get in the Way
When you and your spouse choose to call it quits, you will want to ensure that you keep the needs of your children at the forefront throughout the process. Unfortunately, due to hard feelings, emotions can get in the way of putting them first. Sometimes, a parent may choose not to pay in efforts to punish the other parent. Sadly, the children ultimately suffer. May Law, LLP can provide you with many years of experience in representing our clients in managing child support issues.
When your ex fails to pay child support, you and your child may be impacted in a big way. Although all children are entitled to support from their parents, it can be a heavy blow for a parent who has become accustomed to child support payments to no longer receive them. Without child support, your child’s way of life can be impacted in a way that you do not want. A VA Child Support Lawyer can help you take legal action against your child’s parent. Call us today so that we can strategize the best way to move forward.
When to Hire an Attorney
If your child’s parent has failed to pay child support, you may need to obtain the assistance of May Law LLP to acquire the money your child deserves. It can be incredibly frustrating to have your financials impacted in such a way. Fortunately, we have experience in managing such sensitive situations. We will be vital in taking the proper steps to resolve your legal woes. An attorney may help your child’s parent to take their lack of payment more seriously. Benefits to hiring a member of our legal team include:
- We have experience in navigating family law and the court system. We may help you move through the family court system with ease.
- Legal proceedings can be daunting for many, for the trained professionals at May Law LLP, we are ready to rise to the occasion.
- Sometimes, it takes an attorney to be taken seriously. When your ex is contacted by an attorney, it could spark them into paying the child support they owe you.
- We may be able to look over your case and help value the amount of child support your ex should be paying you each month.
When an ex fails to pay custody, it can be stressful and maddening, we can help you to keep your emotions in check so that you can resolve your case as quickly as possible. With a May Law, LLP Child Support Lawyer in Arlington, VA to take action, you can feel confident that you are in capable hands — so please contact us for a free consultation.
Consequences of Not Making Child Support Payments
If a divorced couple has minor children together, the parent who was the breadwinner will likely have to pay child support to the other parent. Some parents who have to pay child support may get frustrated and try to avoid making full payments. However, the government has cracked down heavily on those who fail to make child support payments.
Here are some of the consequences of not making child support payments:
If the state has discovered that you haven’t been making your child support payments, they may contact your employer and order for them to deduct the payments right out of your paycheck. The payment will then be sent to the custodial parent. Getting your wages garnished can be quite embarrassing and give you a bad reputation at work.
Driver’s License Suspension
Failing to pay child support can also affect your driving privileges. Child support agencies regularly report to the Division of Motor Vehicles when parents stop paying their child support. If you haven’t been making regular payments, you will likely get your driver’s license suspended. Without a license, you will have more difficulty getting to work and other important places, especially if your area doesn’t offer public transportation. You’ll have to rely on other people to give you rides.
If you have fallen behind on child support payments, the state can charge you additional fines for that. Before you know, you may owe tens of thousands of dollars.
Lower Credit Score
If you haven’t made child support payments, it could get reported to credit agencies. This means your credit score can go down. A poor credit rating can negatively affect your life in many ways, including more difficulty getting approved for a loan or apartment.
Inability to Get Passport
Not making child support payments can also prevent you from getting a passport. You won’t be able to leave the country for work or leisure.
If all other methods to obtain child support have been unsuccessful, the judge may order jail time. How long you will remain in jail will depend on your jurisdiction. If you receive a jail sentence, you may likely lose your job and be in an even worse financial situation.
What to Do If You Can’t Pay Child Support
There are legitimate reasons why parents can’t pay child support anymore. They may have lost their jobs or suffered a serious injury. If you have a legitimate hardship that is preventing you from paying child support, you should bring this issue up with the court as soon as possible. If the judge sees proof that you’re indeed struggling, he or she may be more likely to reduce your payments.
If you’re having trouble making child support payments, enlist the help of a family lawyer from May Law LLP.