5 Tips for Your Child Support Case
It can be daunting to think that a judge who knows little about you and your children can make a determination about the amount of child support you will receive or have to pay. And yet the child support system is based on a judge’s interpretation of financial data that is passed onto them by parents and their attorneys.
This is certainly an imperfect system, but it is the one that is used throughout the country and in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The aim of child support is not to punish one spouse or the other or to redistribute wealth. Rather, it is to protect and provide for the needs of your children and ensure their well-being.
If you are nervous about an ongoing child support case, this is understandable. Having an experienced Virginia family law attorney by your side is a great way to alleviate the stress. Your attorney will not only protect your rights but can also explain the legal process and help put your mind at ease. If you are working on child support negotiations, here are five tips that can help you reach a successful resolution.
- Be upfront about your income and expenses.
You will be required to provide a complete financial disclosure to the courts during this process. This includes showing proof of income and expenses. A commonly disputed area centers around income, where one spouse attempts to understate their earnings. Any attempts to game the system are likely to backfire, and the court-ordered child support won’t be in your favor.
- Include other child-related expenses.
Virginia law allows parents to include certain discretionary costs related to caring for and raising children. If these costs are part of your life, list them. Some of the expenses that you can include are travel expenses to reach a distant parent, private school tuition and fees, and the costs of extracurricular activities. These activities may include sports and music lessons, dues, and equipment.
- Document all expenses with canceled checks and receipts.
Whether it is your initial child support hearing or a request for modification, you should have proof of all child-related expenses. Keep a file with bank statements, receipts, and canceled checks so that you can support any statements you make through your attorney or in front of a judge.
- Show up early for your child support hearing.
It would be a monumental error to be late to your child support hearing or worse, fail to show up at all. Even though your attorney will be present, you will want to make a positive impression on the judge. Use the extra time to familiarize yourself with the process, so you will be more at ease if you are called upon to speak.
- Avoid unrelated topics.
A child support hearing is meant to determine a single issue. The judge won’t have the authority to change your custody or visitation agreement, so it doesn’t make sense to bring up requests or other grievances during this proceeding. Instead, stay on topic and let the judge know that you are there to ensure the health and well-being of your child(ren).
Get Help with Your Virginia Child Support Case
Whether married or not, both parents in Virginia are expected and legally obligated to support their children. Child support payments are based on a formula that considers the incomes of both parents as well as health and childcare costs and other expenses.
Either a family law court or the Department of Social Services can issue a child support order in Virginia. In most cases, you are better off trying to negotiate an agreement with the other parent rather than leaving this decision to chance. After an order is already in place, you have the right to ask for a review and adjustment under certain circumstances.
At Buck, Toscano, & Tereskerz, Attorneys at Law, our full-service family law attorneys will help you make sense of the complex laws that Virginia applies to child support and custody cases. Whether you are anticipating paying or receiving child support, these are important matters that need to be done right the first time. Our lawyers will protect your rights, so you can focus on caring for your children.
Contact our Charlottesville office now at 434-977-7977 to schedule your initial consultation.