Child support can be one of the most contentious legal issues a parent can face in family court. Whenever parents have a custody order, one parent is likely to owe child support to the other on a consistent basis. Child support is typically paid monthly, and the amount paid generally hinges on the financial needs of the child and the income difference between the parents. If you are preparing for a divorce or custody determination in Charleston, WV, you should expect to face a child support determination as part of your proceedings.
Attorney Erica Lord and her team at the Erica Lord Law Group offer compassionate and detail-oriented legal counsel to parents facing child support disputes in Charleston, WV. We understand that many parents hold misconceptions about the purpose of child support and how child support determinations unfold, and we also recognize that many parents encounter disputes regarding their child support orders for many different reasons. If you are facing any type of family law case that involves child support, we can provide the legal counsel you need to navigate the situation as successfully as possible.
Facing any family law case without legal representation is challenging and risky. While it is technically possible to navigate a child support determination without an attorney, doing so requires meeting strict procedural rules with the court while managing your everyday responsibilities. Attempting to handle your case alone without legal representation poses several risks. You could end up with a one-sided support agreement that isn’t tenable in the long term. You could also face an unfair decision due to overlooking key details pertinent to the case.
Having an experienced Charleston child support lawyer represent you in your child support determination significantly increases the chances of securing a fair and manageable support agreement. Your legal team will help you gather any and all financial records you must produce for your proceedings and help you make more informed decisions when it comes to negotiating support terms. While the final decisions regarding your child support order will rest in the hands of the Charleston, WV family court judge overseeing your case, your Charleston child support lawyer can still help you present the most robust documentation and help you make a strong case for a fair and balanced child support agreement.
The purpose of child support is to provide a child with the financial support they need for their everyday living expenses. At the most basic level, child support helps to pay for food, clothing, shelter, and medical care for a child. When parents have a child custody agreement, one parent typically assumes a greater share of custody than the other. The noncustodial parent will pay child support to the custodial parent on a monthly basis. However, even if parents share custody in a joint custody agreement and live relatively close to one another, one parent is likely to owe child support to the other based on the difference in their respective incomes.
A judge deciding child support must carefully evaluate the parents’ custody rights and review their financial records. The judge will calculate the total amount of support the child must receive from both parents combined and then divide this amount in half to reach the total child support obligation for each parent. The parent who assumes a greater share of custody rights is perceived to inherently cover their end of this obligation by providing the basic living needs for their children throughout their custody. The other parent then pays child support to account for their portion of the total child support obligation.
A child support agreement will typically last until the child reaches the age of 18, dies, or is legally emancipated. Child support would also terminate if one of the parents dies. While most child support agreements end when a child turns 18, it is possible for parents to negotiate alternative support terms based on their child’s unique needs and their preferences. For example, some parents arrange child support past the age of 18 through a child’s undergraduate education. If you are unsure how to tailor your child support order, it’s important to consult an experienced Charleston child support attorney as soon as possible.
The Charleston, WV family court acknowledges that life can present unpredictable problems, sometimes presenting challenges in terms of a parent’s child support order and their ability to meet their obligations. Intentional failure or refusal to pay child support can lead to severe penalties, including contempt of court and even criminal prosecution. However, if you have a legitimate reason as to why you cannot meet your support obligation, the modification process can allow you to secure reasonable changes to your agreement in consideration of your circumstances.
If you have lost your job, developed a medical condition, or experienced any other significant life event beyond your control that influences your ability to meet your support obligations, you can file a petition for modification with the Charleston, WV family court. This petition must include your desired change and a clear explanation as to why the change is both reasonable and necessary. Once the court receives your petition a hearing will be scheduled and both parents will have the chance to speak on the issue. If the judge determines your petition is valid and reasonable, they will implement the necessary changes, usually with immediate effect.
Child support matters are multifaceted and can easily evolve into contentious disputes. Parents facing child support cases in Charleston, WV need legal counsel they can trust to navigate these situations effectively. Whether your child support case is part of a larger divorce case or a standalone issue between you and your coparent, we can help. If you are ready to discuss your case with an experienced Charleston child support attorney, the Erica Lord Law Group is ready to assist you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team and find out more about the services we can provide during your child support determination.