Are there any surprises hidden in your local child support laws? Take some time to contact a family law attorney with extensive local experience – attorneys familiar with a particular court system, and especially individual judges and opposing attorneys, have a far better chance of anticipating any curveballs that might come your way.
This quick guide will introduce you to three of the most common yet least expected child support stipulations.
1. Courts Consider Earning Ability
Many parents assume that actual earnings are all that is considered. This is not always the case. Some jurisdictions allow judges to look at earning potential – that is, how much money you could be making based on factors such as training and previous employment – and allow judges to order the potential amount instead of the actual amount.
This allows parents to cut their work hours to pursue higher education or take a lower paying job to reduce stress levels without putting the burden on the children. Many judges would say that the needs of the child come before the career or personal plans of the parents.
2. Child Support Collection Can Be Aggressive
Law enforcement and state agencies have ramped up their child support collection efforts in recent years. They can withhold income, unemployment, worker’s compensation, and military/government benefit checks. Failure to pay child support can result in some rather surprising non-monetary outcomes as well, such as driver license suspension or revocation of recreational permits.
3. Advice Becomes Outdated Quickly
Child support laws are always changing, always becoming more refined. Your friend or family member that went through a divorce five years ago may be able to offer some valuable advice, but the legal side of that advice will probably have grown outdated by now. Family and friends are great for emotional support but anecdotal experiences can rarely help with real-life child custody strategy.
Always take the time to consult with an attorney before making any important decisions. We can recommend a child support attorney in Oceanside to our San Diego readers, but your local child welfare division should be able to provide recommendations as well. Never rely on outdated concepts or self-help books for something as dynamic as child support law.
The Bottom Line
Every jurisdiction is different, so don’t become alarmed if something on this list could have a negative impact on your child support case. Raise any concerns with your attorney as soon as possible. There are always other options, there is always time to adjust your strategy to account for factors you may not have considered previously.
Think outside the box. Once your child custody hearings begin, the last thing you want to encounter is a surprise. Keep your communications with your attorney open and honest; give yourself the best possible chance to obtain a reasonable outcome that works in the best interest of your children. Child support cases are always stressful, but they don’t have to be frightening. Keep researching and increasing your familiarity with the child support laws and customs in your area – knowledge is power.