While cost should not be the top priority when deciding to hire an attorney or to pursue a child support case it certainly is factor that you should be considering. Your goal of increasing, decreasing or just establishing child support is a smart one to have but not at the cost of your future financial wherewithal. What compounds the difficulties associated with financing a family law case on a budget is likely the fact that you are not well versed in legal cases and know little about how to cut down on costs. Are getting a proper child support order in place and minimizing costs mutually exclusive goals?
The answer to that question is, no. You can work towards minimizing the costs associated with your child support case by working to negotiate and settle your case with your child’s other parent rather than proceeding into a lengthy and expensive legal battle. I’m not here to say that every child support case can conclude with an amicable resolution. However, the vast majority of them can and it is probable that yours can as well.
Today’s blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will walk you through a few tips and pieces of advice that we have seen be successful for past clients when it comes to settling your child support case in an effort to reduce costs.
Child Support brings out strong opinions in people
There is something about the process of receiving money from your child’s other parent, or having to pay that money, that brings out emotion and strong opinions in people. I’ve seen it time and time again that the times are few and far between when people agree on issues relating to child support at the outset of a case. They could have all the other issues of their situation under control regarding their child but child support always seems to take a little more effort to come to a resolution.
However, if you are in a position where your child’s other parent earns six figures per year or more or your child has any sort of special needs these are situations that can only add to the disputed nature of child support. Let’s examine some tips that can help spur a settlement rather than to have to proceed to a costly and trial only to have a judge play tie-breaker for you and the other parent.
Think outside the box and be creative
The Texas Family Code contains guidelines for child support in Texas. These guidelines take the other parent’s net monthly income and applies a percentage against that income based on the amount of children involved in your case. When you multiply those numbers together you get the amount of child support that the other parent would be obligated to pay you on a monthly basis. In many situations this figure is appropriate and is the odds on favorite for what the judge would order.
Just like a snowflake, each child support case is different, however. Your child may have needs that are substantially different than the guidelines level of support proscribed in the family code. As a result, you cannot simply go into negotiations with these amounts in mind. If you and the other parent can put your heads together you can come up with a more flexible and creative child support order than a judge will be able to do.
Many parents would like to be able to share 50/50 in possession of their child. If you and the other parent in your case would like to do the same thing you can calculate what each of your child support obligations would be and then subtract one from the other to come up with a difference. That difference could be paid to the parent whose income is less. This way nobody has to pay a “guidelines” level of child support but nonetheless child support will still be paid. Future issues regarding child support can be referred back to this method of child support calculation so that neither of you can attempt to change the rules down the line if the mood strikes you.
The age old “proven needs” of your child vs. “living a lifestyle to which they’ve been accustomed”
If your child support case is a part of your and your spouse’s divorce then you have probably heard from friends and family that your spouse ought to pay whatever sum of money will allow your child to experience the same sort of lifestyle that he or she has become accustomed to during the time that you and your spouse were married.
On the other hand, child support has traditionally been applied in order to allow your child’s “proven needs” to be taken care of. Child Support isn’t in existence to fund wild adventures and nice clothes but to make sure your child has a house to live in, food to eat, clean clothes, etc. If your soon to be ex-spouse earns a substantial income how will a court balance these two concepts?
From my experience, judges are likely to take into consideration the lifestyle and activities of the child before the divorce when computing child support. If your child has been engaging in extracurricular activities, playing an instrument and vacationing with their cousins in Europe in each summer a judge is likely going to place a child support order on the other parent that allows your child to continue these activities unless your soon to be ex-spouse can prove that he or she would face an undue financial hardship if this were the case.
Understanding how a judge is likely to rule is key. If you are the parent who will be expected to pay child support it is not worth the time, money or emotional output to proceed to a trial on this issue if you have a strong feeling about how the judge will rule. Work with your spouse on a child support figure that allows your child to continue following their interests and one that will not bankrupt you. There is a middle ground here, I can assure you.
Work with your attorney and he or she will be honest with you
Your attorney is the best resource you have to understanding the myriad issues surrounding child support. Sometimes your attorney gets to deliver happy news that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy when it comes to your child support case. Other times, he or she will have to work to keep your wants and desires of your case in perspective. This is especially true if you are not being realistic about the outcome of your case.
This is true if you are going to be the parent who is receiving child support or will be paying child support. Your attorney will counsel you on the benefits of working out a reasonable settlement with the other parent rather than proceeding to a costly trial. It is possible that the outcome of that trial will be worse than what you are facing currently, despite the time and money that went into preparations. Such is life when you are relying on the opinion of a judge whose opinions can change every time the wind blows.
Questions about child support? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
The attorneys and staff of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC thank you for taking an interest in the topic of child support. If you have any questions for us after reading this blog post please do not hesitate to contact our office today. We offer free of charge consultations to potential clients and will be happy to answer your questions.
Across southeast Texas, our attorneys have successfully represented clients and their families during difficult periods in their lives. We would be honored to speak to you about the opportunity to do the same for you and yours.