While even the most amicable divorce can be a distressing process, when you add children and child support into the mix, this definitely ups the ante, so to speak. As an experienced Arizona child support lawyer, I can help with many child support-related issues.
Of course, parents who were not married also can face these troubling issues. So, whether or not a legal marriage has taken place, an attorney can make it much easier to deal with any issue regarding support and parenting time (custody). When should you call? Anytime you are experiencing issues which might affect your child, including:
1. The Initial Separation Phase
As soon as you separate, it can be smart to sit down with a lawyer and discuss issues regarding child parenting time and child support. Even if you tend to agree on many aspects of your children’s care and support, there may be issues you haven’t thought about.
It’s also crucial to have all child-related issues dealt with in a legal manner and have everything settled in front of a judge in a court of law. Having legal records in place can help protect the child as well as the parents and having experienced legal representation makes the whole process much easier. Child support and parenting time issues can be complicated, but an experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights and your child’s rights.
2. Modifications Need To Be Made
In some cases, there may be modifications that might need to be made to your child support agreement. For instance, perhaps a parent loses his or her job. While you still will be responsible for child support payments even while unemployed, the payment amounts might be modified to reflect your reduction in income.
Losing a job is just one issue that can make it difficult to handle child support payments. In some cases, health benefits might change. For instance, your employer might reduce the amount of coverage for dependents, forcing you to pay more for your children’s coverage.
You also might have additional children with a new partner or new spouse. Child support payments might need to be modified to reflect the fact that you now have more children to support and cannot meet the current payment amount.
In some cases, the parent who does not pay child support might become unemployed and need modifications. On the flip side, this parent also could gain new employment with a much higher salary and more benefits. This parent might not need as much support, and modifications might need to be made.
Child support payments don’t always simply pay for food, lodging and clothing. Health insurance, school tuition, childcare, tutoring services and even activities such as music lessons and summer camps might be part of a child support agreement. If a child no longer needs specific services or activities, modifications might need to be made.
For instance, if your child was in private school and has moved over to public school, this could impact the amount of your child support payments. If a child needs therapy of some type, child support amounts might need to be changed. Of course, once a child has reached a specific age or graduated from high school, child support modifications will need to be made.
Additionally, a parent (or both parents) might wish to change the parenting time agreement. Altering parenting time can affect child support payment requirements and speaking with an attorney can shed light on how parenting time changes might impact child support.
Keep in mind, changing child support and parenting time are two separate legal issues but are often linked. A change to parenting time will usually require a change to child support but not the other way around. Whether you are having parenting time issues or support issues, we can help you formulate a plan and help you through the entire process of modification.
It’s important to note that in order to modify support or parenting time orders, you typically must wait until one year has passed since the orders were put into place or the financial change to child support is 15% or greater. There are exceptions to this, of course. If a child’s physical or mental health is at risk, modifications to the parenting plan and/or legal decisions making may require quick legal actions. Issues with drug or substance abuse are also serious concerns and justify an expedited request to change to parenting time or implement safeguards.
3. Child Support Violations
If a parent is delinquent or consistently late with child support payments, this can be a huge issue and we can help. Even if a parent is unemployed, this doesn’t excuse them from paying court-ordered child support. If a parent declares bankruptcy, they still are responsible for current and past child support payments.
There are many penalties for those who fail to pay for child support. For instance, wages might be garnished, and the paying parent may be subject to additional fines and have their tax refunds intercepted. In some cases, driver’s license may be suspended or incarceration may be ordered.
While some parents simply don’t pay what they owe, some parents truly struggle to make the monthly payments. If you have violated your court-ordered child support agreement because it’s simply difficult for you to meet the terms of the agreement, it’s wise to consult with a child support attorney to discuss filing for a modification.
Child support payments are important because they ensure that a child has proper care, but they are not meant to be so high that the paying parent cannot meet their own reasonabl needs, such as food, housing and other necessities. Working with an attorney is the best way to ensure that children are protected, and payments are fair and reasonable.
Schmaltz Law Can Help
Did you know that about half of all custodial parents do not have any legally binding agreements in place regarding child support and child parenting time? This is a huge mistake. It’s always best to have legal documents in place regarding parenting time and/or support issues. Even if you have been apart for many months or years but need to resolve child-related issues, give us a call and we can discuss your options.
As an experienced Arizona divorce and family law attorney, I can help you with many issues regarding divorce, child parenting time, child support and spousal maintenance (alimony). If you need a child support lawyer or child parenting time lawyer, please give us a call at (480) 629-5336.