If you have been through a difficult divorce, the last thing you probably want to think about is the possibility of having to go back to the family law court in order to have another aspect of your case re-litigated. One of the more important topics that is sure to bring about strong opinions from you and your ex-spouse is child support.
Suppose that you are the custodial parent of your child. This means that you have the right to determine the primary residence of your child and to receive child support payments from your ex-spouse. With these rights comes a great deal of responsibility. You not only have physical possession of your child more frequently than does your ex-spouse, but you also pay for more aspects of their life. The child support payment will help but it is unlikely that it covers an entire month’s worth of costs.
In the years after your divorce you may have found that your child’s needs have increased the amount that you are having to spend on him or her. It could be that he or she has experienced a medical issue that requires regular care from an in-home care provider or something similar. It could be that your ex-spouse has experienced a substantial increase in income since your divorce and their current child support obligation is no longer in line with their income.
Whatever the reason for seeking a child support increase, you need to be equipped with knowledge of the process and procedures of a modification case. Having an experienced family law attorney by your side throughout the process can help in that endeavor. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will detail this subject for you in the event that you find yourself in this position.
Private attorney vs. The Attorney General
It is not necessary to hire a private attorney in order to seek to increase the child support that you receive. There are what is known as “IV-D” courts in Texas that exist only to establish child support obligations for non-custodial parents, collect payments from non custodial parents and enforce the child support orders that are established in these courts.
For the most part, these IV-D courts are ones in which there are three parties: Custodial parents, Non Custodial parents and an attorney with the Attorney General’s Office (OAG). As a custodial parent you can contact the OAG to ask them to review your case to see if there is merit to seeking a modification of the child support order. Based on the information you provide a modification can be filed in IV-D court where you can present evidence in order to increase the child support obligation of your ex-spouse.
A trap that many custodial parents fall into is that you could be under the impression that the OAG represents you and will advocate for your rights in court. This is not the case. The OAG represents itself and its own interests. Those interests are primarily upholding the law of the State that it represents and ensuring that your child does not get placed on government assistance programs unless that is absolutely necessary. Your ex-spouse paying child support (and assumedly medical support as well) means that one less child will be reliant upon Medicaid and other overly burdened government programs.
Benefits of hiring a private family law attorney for your child support modification case
It is not a bad thing to go through the OAG court for child support modification purposes. That is what the courts are there for. As I alluded to earlier, the majority of parents, custodial and non-custodial, are not represented by attorneys from my experience in those courts. For those folks you do not want representation or cannot afford it this is an option to look into.
For others, I believe that you will find that the IV-D courts are not going to help you at the level that a district court with a private attorney would. For starters, the IV-D courts are overburdened with litigants and cannot hear cases with the frequency that a district court can. Personal assistance and timely results are not in the cards for you should you choose to go through the IV-D courts.
Your modification case will be handled more efficiently should you be able to hire an experience family law attorney to represent you in your child support modification case. Your attorney will be able to draft your paperwork for you and file it in district court. A hearing can be set for a few weeks later. While you wait for a hearing your ex-spouse can be served with your modification documents. From there, your attorney and their attorney can negotiate terms to potentially settle your case without the need to appear in court. This saves you time and money in the long run.
If your ex-spouse earns a substantial income where he or she is not an employee who receives a W-2 tax statement showing their earnings, it can often times be difficult to prove to a judge just what exactly he or she earns. If you have problems in this area it will be nearly impossible to have a judge grant your modification request. A private family law attorney can assist you in digging up the source of any “hidden” income of your ex-spouse. These bits of detective work can be the difference between having your child support increased or remain the same.
Blocking out the noise in a child support case
Everyone has an opinion. Your family and friends are no different. It could be the case that they have been more than happy to share their opinions with you about your family law case and how you can best go about protecting your rights. Some of them may have even been through a similar situation and are now second guessing your decision making on whether or not to proceed with a modification case.
No two child support cases are exactly the same, and having a family law attorney to represent you in your child support modification case can be incredibly important in helping you to block out any noise from the outside. Your focus should be on your child and on your case. Your attorney can help you to do so.
Family law attorneys have been through situations similar to yours and can guide you for long term success. Your family members likely don’t have the experience or knowledge to give you anything close to good, long term advice. This isn’t a knock against listening to family- it’s just that their day jobs are to teach school, work on vehicles or prepare taxes- not represent parents in Texas family law courts.
Help in managing your ex-spouse
Your ex-spouse is probably none too pleased that you are seeking to increase their child support obligation. It could be that he or she is voicing their opinion to you that there is no way that you’re going to get the child support increase that you are seeking. Working with your family law attorney provides a buffer between you and he or she. Let your attorney do the “dirty” work while you focus on your child. Your attorney will do what is necessary to teach you about the law and how it can be applied in your case. Once you have as much information as possible, you can make decisions that make sense now and in the future for you and your family.
Questions on child support modification cases? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are just the sort of experienced family law attorneys that you need to handle a tough child support case. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week for people like yourself who have questions about family law issues. Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your family.