Getting a non-custodial parent to pay their child support obligations can be tough, and hiring a child support lawyer can help. Many people who owe child support refuse to pay, especially in cases where divorce proceedings were particularly bitter. Hiring an experienced lawyer can help the parent seeking support wade through the administrative processes that can often be cumbersome and inefficient. Having someone with experience and contacts will make the process easier.
All states have a child support enforcement program. These programs offer a wide range of child support services including locating the non-custodial parent and collecting support payments. Because most states are facing budget issues, these programs are not necessarily well funded. This why hiring a lawyer can be most beneficial. By choosing a local family lawyer with experience in child support enforcement, you will have someone working for you who are familiar with the processes and the people. The personal contacts are perhaps the most valuable asset this lawyer possesses. They will be familiar with people in the office and be able to communicate with them on a more personal level, ensuring faster and better results.
Orders for child support come from the family court and are based on guidelines set by the state government. These guidelines establish a payment based on the non-custodial parents income and the number of children. Other factors including the income of the custodial parent and the needs of the children will also be taken into consideration. Courts only deviate from these guidelines for significant reasons. Changes in circumstances can justify changes in the support amount. These changes can include increases or reductions in the income of either parent.
There are a number of ways to get help in collecting on a child support order. Hiring a lawyer is one that is popular. People seeking payment of past child support are often not in a position to pay the expensive hourly rates that many family lawyers charge. For this reason, many a child support lawyer will work on a contingency fee basis. One third the amount collected is a typical fee, but this varies from one state to the next. Because the money was intended by the court to provide support for the child, not pay for attorney fees, there are restrictions on using these fees.
Since 1992, it is a federal crime in the United States to avoid paying child support for a child living in another state of the past due amount goes unpaid for one year or is in excess of $5000. Punishment includes substantial fines and prison sentences lasting up to two years. Unfortunately, federal prosecutors are reluctant to use their dwindling resources on these cases, preferring to take down large scale criminal operations instead. Having a lawyer on your side can help get the federal prosecution process working.
Hiring a child support lawyer is a process similar to hiring any other type of attorney. Getting referrals and checking references are both key components of the process. Finding a lawyer to take a child support case can be difficult. It is even more difficult to find one who will take the case on a contingency basis. Most of these lawyers require a retainer for their services that most people who need child support cannot afford. This is an area of the law that is sometimes better served through a legal aid office. Legal aid societies match people who cannot afford lawyers with attorneys who are seeking to fulfill their state mandated pro bono requirements. If you qualify, you can seek representation from a highly qualified specialized attorney at no cost to you.