Preparing For Your Child Support Consultation
Ensuring your child has the means available to enjoy a healthy and stable life is the goal of caring parents. Many times the best way to provide that stability is through Court-ordered child support, and your initial consultation with an experienced family law attorney is the first step.
What a Child Support Consultation Is
A child support consultation is the initial meeting between you and your attorney to discuss your case and different ways to proceed forward. It is the time to ask all your initial questions and express your goals for the type of support arrangement you seek and what you and your children will need.
How a Child Support Lawyer Helps You
Family Law is a complex and highly emotional area of the law. Securing and following the professional legal advice of an experienced family law attorney can be critical to your success. Having the best advocate who explains the process, your rights and helps you strategize for the best results, as well as someone who truly cares about you and your family, makes all the difference.
Things to Remember for Your Child Support Consultation
The initial child support consultation is a huge step forward in planning for your new life. It is time with your attorney that you want to make the most out of by having an honest and complete conversation about your case. It is far better for all involved to be aware of any problematic circumstances upfront than for your attorney to find out later. Don’t forget that communications between you and your attorney during your initial consultation is subject to attorney-client privilege. A lot of information will be shared, so it is important to remember a few key details of what to bring with you.
Bring a List of Questions to Ask Your Lawyer
A written list of questions and an open mind are critical. There are no inappropriate questions. Prepare a list of questions and ask them at your initial consultation. Writing the questions down will help you to remember them. If you don’t know, ask. Your attorney wants to be your best advocate, and an informed attorney is much more successful.
Remember Any Legal Documents
Remember to bring any legal documents related to your case, such as court paperwork, custody arrangements that you may have, medical bills (if ongoing treatment is needed). These documents support the need for child support and help make your consultation easier for you and your lawyer.
Bring your own pad and pen to write down notes of the meeting and any additional items that your attorney may request of you.
As child support is income-based in Pennsylvania, bring an accurate “financial snapshot” of your circumstances to your initial child support consultation. Items such as pay stubs, W-2s, recent tax returns, invoices for camp and private school, if applicable to you, assist your attorney in guiding you and obtaining the best support order in your case.
“Evidence” About You & Your Ex
Having objective evidence in the form of documents, witnesses, and testimony that provide proof of your claims is a crucial component of a successful case and is important for giving as much context to your lawyer during your child support consultation. Never forget that social media postings can become “evidence” also.
Questions to Ask Your Lawyer About Child Support
Having clear communication with your attorney is critical for presenting your best case for child support. Any questions you have, you should ask during your child support consultation.
What Does Child Support Cover?
In short, child support is for the care and well-being of the child. Child support exists to pay for items such as food, clothing, medical, and educational expenses,
How Do You Calculate Child Support?
Calculating child support in Pennsylvania depends on the parents’ relative income. The Pennsylvania Child Support Chart guides the Court on the basic calculation of support based upon the combined income of the parents and the number of children. The Court will consider evidence on additional expenses as well as any special circumstances before making its award.
In general, with high-income child support cases, the Pennsylvania Child Support Chart is not applicable. If the combined monthly income of the parents exceeds $30,000, the court utilizes a different child support calculation method.
Can the Court Modify the Amount of Child Support?
In general, the short answer is yes. This is not an automatic event, and a petition needs to be filed with the Court and evidence presented showing cause why the amount should be modified. The court can either increase or decrease a child support order. Each case is highly fact-specific, and the child support order revolves around the income of the parents.
What Happens if the Other Parent Doesn’t Pay Child Support?
In Pennsylvania, it is the duty of both parents to support their child financially. If a parent does not pay child support, there can be significant legal consequences, up to and including jail time. Contacting your family law attorney can help if you’re not receiving support to file with the Court to enforce the child support order or to establish one. Further, if you are behind in making your support payments, the court may contact you. We assist with that situation also.
Summary of How to Prepare for Your Child Support Consultation
Children have a right to have their financial needs addressed by both their mother and their father. At Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC, we have helped parents establish child support arrangements that make sense for everyone involved. Reviewing your case with you, analyzing the financial aspects and answering all your questions are key components of the child support consultation. Put our more than four decades of family law experience to work for you.