Seeking or paying child support can lead to some thorny legal issues. Worse, given how family situations can evolve, these issues may appear more than once. If you're not sure if you need a child support attorney, consider hiring one in any of these four scenarios.
Drafting an Agreement
Even if you and the other parent are sure you can handle the situation in a friendly manner, you would both be wise to have a written agreement in place. An attorney can help you to identify appropriate language to cover who will pay support, the schedule, and how much money is involved. More importantly, a formal agreement means both sides accept the basic facts of the situation, such as parentage and the duty to pay support.
Putting the agreement in writing and submitting it to the family court reduces the risk something will change later. If the circumstances do change, you will have expedited the hardest parts. Instead of figuring out whether someone owes support, the court can focus on what has changed.
The Child's Living Arrangements
Life happens, and that means situations may shift. For example, a child might achieve emancipation. In that scenario, the parent who was previously receiving payments is no longer entitled to them. Notably, the child may have grounds to seek support.
Similarly, the child might move in with someone else. The grandparents, for example, might start raising the child. That doesn't necessarily change the support obligation for the paying parent, but it does shift who should get the money.
A step-parent adopting the child would lead to a notable change. Once the kid is legally theirs, the biological parent's support obligation under child support law should end.
As a payer's financial situation changes, they may want to petition the court for a modification of the obligation. This is especially the case if their finances take a turn for the worst, usually due to unemployment or reduced working hours. On the flip side, the receiving side may ask the court for a modification if the payer starts making significantly more money.
Bear in mind, judges don't want to constantly revisit this issue. Unless the situation has changed dramatically, you don't want to come back to the court with a request only a few months after the judge entered an order.
The court may take action against either party if there's a problem. Most commonly, this happens when people owe significant arrearages due to non-payment. Regardless of which side of the issue you're on, a child support attorney can represent your interests. Contact one for more information regarding child support law.