How to Prepare for a Child Support Case
While anyone would agree that a court case of any kind can be unsettling to the nerves, nothing can cause feelings of uneasiness quite like cases involving children. Whether it’s a custody battle or a case to determine child support, you will want to come across as a good parent. Trying to present the most honest version of yourself to a judge who knows little to nothing about you can be scary, as they determine how much your child support will be. Whether you’re confident walking into the courtroom or nervous, here are some things to avoid when it comes to child support cases.
- Don’t ignore your mail. Sure, it’s easy to throw junk mail into the trash without ever opening it. But you’ll want to pay close attention to what comes from your lawyer, your ex’s lawyer, and the court system. Read it once, put it down for 30 minutes or so, then pick it back up and go over it again to make sure you fully comprehend what has been sent to you. If you’re asked to take action, do so within the allotted time period. Don’t delay any replies. Contact your lawyer and follow through.
- Don’t distort the information to make you look like the “good guy.” Always be completely honest, as lies will only backfire. Document any “under the table” income you receive and don’t “over-report” your financial needs to gain control over the amount of child support that is to be awarded to you.
- Don’t show up late or decide not to attend. Arrive early, as this will help increase your chances of leaving a good first impression on the judge. It’s common for cases to take longer than expected; so if yours hasn’t started yet, use what time you have beforehand to collect yourself and calm your nerves.
- Don’t divert from the topic being discussed. The judge is here to determine how much child support you will receive/have to pay. They cannot change the custody order or visitation arrangement during this time.
- Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Child support is ultimately determined by the information supplied to the court system, info that comes from you, your ex, and your state’s child support guidelines. If you feel as though your ex is falsifying their income, speak up. If the court suspects voluntary impoverishment, the judge will determine an amount based on what they believe the parent should be able to earn (this is based on past employment, education level, etc.). In reality, know that if your ex-has little to no income, chances are their amount will be minimal.