Child support is one of several matters that fall under the category of family law. A lawyer specializing in this type of law also deals with child custody, marriage, divorce, adoption, domestic partnership, and more. Though many family law matters can be handled without the use of an attorney, legal counsel is usually recommended for child custody and child support cases. Parents experiencing child support issues should get help from a qualified attorney before the situation worsens.
Child support is financial compensation paid by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent. The money is intended for childrearing expenses such as food, clothing, education, and social activities. A child support calculation is determined by agreement or by court order and once established in writing, must be adhered to by both parents. If either adult wants to lower or raise child support, the case must go back to court for approval.
If a parent obligated to pay child support stops making these payments, the other parent can take legal action. The Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 holds state or district attorneys responsible for helping parents to collect child support. Under federal law, tax refunds may be intercepted during enforcement of child support orders. Additional enforcement methods include seizing property, wage attachments, and revoking the driver license of the paying parent (only done in some states).
A lawyer for child support helps custodial parents take these legal actions to recoup back child support. If a delinquent payer still does not pay, the court can hold the individual in contempt for failing to follow a court order and can impose a jail term. However, this does not benefit the custodial parent because the payer will not earn money while in jail.
Many of the agencies that assist with child support enforcement charge little or nothing for their services. A custodial parent with limited financial resources may want to start by contacting one of these organizations. If this does not result in success, a lawyer for child support is the best choice. When time is of the essence, retaining a lawyer is the recommended first step.
Custodial parents should not be afraid to exercise their child support rights. However, they should do it in a way that is within the law, not by withholding child visitation. An attorney can help a client recoup back child support and request an adjustment of the court order if necessary to ensure that the non-custodial parent continues payments.