When a child is born, the parents are legally responsible for the care of that child. That legal responsibility applies even if the parents never marry or are now divorced. You may feel certain that you will take on the role of helping to care for a child in any way possible. The law, however, does not leave that issue to chance. Read on to find out how you should respond to a request for paying child support.
Parents have always been responsible for providing food, clothing, and shelter to a child. There have not always been laws that legislate that responsibility, however. A swath of laws handed down by the federal courts mandate how much child support is to be paid and the penalties for non-compliance. When you receive a petition from the county courts informing you of a child support hearing, you are compelled to attend. In most cases, the hearing is to determine the amount of child support you will pay each month.
Each state has its own income guidelines that deal with child support and the amount is based on the state's median income and your own income. Other pertinent information is used to determine the final amount, such as the primary custodian's income and the custody arrangements. Also, taken into consideration is the need for daycare and healthcare insurance.
The Child Support Hearing
Be ready to show your income by bringing your pay stubs or other proof of income with you. The petition informing you of the hearing will usually contain instructions on what to bring with you. Some courts want to see your most recent tax return, for example. You should not consider skipping this hearing since child support will be ordered in your absence and you won't have any input into the amount you owe.
When You Need a Lawyer
If your hearing and the issues are straightforward, you don't necessarily need to have a lawyer with you during the child support hearing. However, if any of the below issues are affecting you, you should seek help from a family law attorney at once.
- Paternity is in question – If you have reason to believe that you are not the father of the child, you have a right to request a DNA test be done once the child is born.
- The amount is unfair – If the amount you have been ordered to pay is not affordable for you, speak to a lawyer about a support alteration hearing.
- Custody is in contention – If you are attempting to be awarded full physical custody of the child, speak to an attorney. You should understand, however, that temporary child support can be ordered while the divorce case is in process.
Speak to family law attorneys like those at Stoddard Law Firm to find out more about child support.