Can a Lawyer Help Me Decrease My Child Support Payments?
There are several reasons to want to lower your child support payments. Using a team of expert child support lawyers is the first step to ensuring your next payment is more reasonable for your lifestyle. Yes, a lawyer can help lower your payment, but it does take a bit of work because you are trying to modify or adjust a legal order by a court.
The point of child support payments is to help the child through their early years until the age of 18. This money is designed to provide for clothing, medical expenses, school items like books, and everyday needs that the child has in order to be considered well cared for. After a court establishes the amount a parent must pay towards child support, you must make those payments on time or be exposed to further litigation that can be damaging to your reputation and income.
A lot of movement has happened in the previous years over “deadbeat parent” laws. These specific legal standards dictate what will happen if you stop making payments ordered by a court. In most cases, your wages will be garnished and automatically sent to the parent who has legal authority or custody of the child. In more extreme situations, you can have your driver’s licenses removed, professional licenses suspended, or even end up serving jail time.
However, courts are willing to work with parents that have legitimate reasons for needing child support modification. Losing a job, having high other expenses (medical, housing, etc.), or experiencing some other issue can sway a court to lower your payments. That is when you need a qualified child support lawyer to help.
What will a Child Support Lawyer do for my Case?
Courts operate by making decisions based on verifiable evidence. They will listen to the personal accounts of the parties involved, but hard evidence always speaks more than stories of challenges, no matter the context.
The point of a lawyer is to help with child support modifications because you either cannot pay or some other situation has occurred in your child’s life that requires attention. Your attorney is there to gather all the evidence behind the reason for your child support payments request. They will walk you through all the stages of the case and how the hearing will unfold based on your evidence, so you are prepared to answer questions.
Most states, including West Virginia, have calculations and formulas they rely on to determine how much a parent is responsible for concerning child support issues. A good place for your legal team to start is to reevaluate your calculation based on the new information you are providing. For example, if you lost your job during the global pandemic and the new job you have secured pays 10-15% less, then a modification of your income may lower your payment to child support.
A judge will have the final say over what your payment modification will be or if it remains the same, but the formulas and worksheets for your state give you a good estimation as to what changes you can expect.
What are the Reasons for a Child Support Modification?
Like every other court case, child support payments will vary based on your family’s individual circumstances and lifestyle. There is no “one size fits all” guideline to expect for your outcome.
In general, a court will want to see a long-term or involuntary change in circumstances to make a change. If you suddenly decide to work part-time compared to full-time when there wasn’t a big reason other than wanting to work less, you may not get a modification. There are plenty of other reasons why a child support payment can be modified like:
- The child’s needs have changed (medical, special needs, accommodations)
- A parent secures a new job or qualification that results in higher income
- The involuntary loss of a job or income
- A parent has a new child and needs to care for them as well
- A change in the custody agreement for visitation
- A parent becomes incarcerated, ill, or disabled
- And more
It comes down to what you can verify and clearly explain in front of a judge. Most cases are easy to demonstrate because the need is clear, and the parent has the evidence to back up their assertion. This includes a COLA (cost of living adjustment). If the established economic indicators show a reduction in need, you may be able to lower your payment.
What about Marriage?
A common question our team at Hilliard & Swartz Law Offices gets is what happens if my ex remarries to someone new? Will my child support payments be automatically lowered as a result?
Again, every case is different, so there is no clear-cut answer. In most states, your new spouse is not financially responsible for your children from a previous relationship. However, if your household expenses suddenly become very small and thus, you have more disposable income, a court can rule you have more financial responsibility and vice versa. On the other hand, if your ex gets remarried, that could theoretically mean you have less financial commitment.
The big caveat is that the only legal way for your child support payments to be lowered is through a court-approved method. Even if you and your spouse have an excellent relationship and you request a change, it has to be approved by a court to be legal. Otherwise, you risk exposure to future problems if something bad were to happen in that relationship down the road. They can always claim you did not pay the amount the court-ordered.
The Importance of Child Support Lawyers
Confrontations and matters that deal with family law are incredibly complicated. You may want to do the right thing at all times, but without proper documentation and legal approval, your good intentions can turn into trouble.
The best solution is to hire an experienced child support lawyer like those at Hilliard and Swartz Legal Offices. Our experts can walk you through every stage of requesting a change in child support payments, as well as help you gather the documentation needed to verify your needs. Don’t get trapped in the legalese of the situation, and hire one of our professional lawyers to help you safely navigate this process so you can get back to living a quality life without fear of future repercussions.
Visit their website at www.wvdivorce.com or call the local office at (304) 729-9000.