Divorce proceedings can be complex. However, they are even more complex when a child or multiple children are involved. In a divorce where no children are involved, the once married couple only need decide on the division of property. However, when a child or children are involved in the split, it must be decided which parent the child will live with primarily and which parent will be granted visitation. The parent with primary care becomes known, in most states, as the custodial parent and the parent granted visitation becomes known as the non-custodial parent. Once custody has been decided, it is then necessary to also determine child support. Child custody and child support will often be decided at different hearings, each type of hearing with its own unique tone of what you can expect. So, what will happen at a child support hearing?
Your Child Support Hearing
Many people hear the word hearing and automatically think they will be sitting in front of a judge. However, this is not always the case. Although some states do require an actual hearing in a court room in front of a judge, most have resorted to having cases heard in front of a court officer. Below is a list of what you can expect.
- You will be required to a report to a small room, containing you, your former spouse, and a court officer in most cases
- You will need to provide required documentation including
- Birth certificates for you and your child
- Proof of social security number for both you and your child
- Proof of income, such as a paycheck stub
- All information will be collected by the officer of the court presiding over the meeting or sometimes by a judge, depending on the procedures of your state
- The information will be reviewed and the officer will decide on a fair amount to grant for child support payments, generally on a weekly basis
- Once the amount has been determined, a final order is drawn up and signed by both parties
- The final order is then taken to a judge where he or she applies his or her signature and the order goes into effect
The most important thing to remember during a child support hearing is that your significant other is not there simply to get money out of you. Remember this is your child or children that you would have been raising anyway, both emotionally and monetarily, had you both stayed together. Therefore, it is important to remain amicable and friendly during the process in order to agree to an amount that everyone will be content with. Also, it is important to keep in mind that your expenses will not be taken into consideration when deciding the amount of child support your former spouse will receive for the care of your children. It is your responsibility to ensure you are not living above your means, because getting behind on child support payments has many negative ramifications and can possibly even lead to jail time in some states.
If you have been summoned to a child support hearing, it is important that you get proper legal representation. Your attorney will help to make sure your rights are protected and that a fair child support agreement is reached.