Child support can evoke a lot of anxiety, because your ability to provide for yourself (and your child) might be at stake, whether you face an uncomfortable decrease in your standard of living, or something more drastic, like your ability to keep a roof over your head and food on the table. Perhaps your concerns are more along the lines of: “I just want this to be fair, and I don’t want the other person to take advantage of me.” Whatever your specific concerns are, you’ve likely thought about hiring an attorney, but you might not know whether that’s a good or bad idea, and why.
Ask An Attorney Whether You Need An Attorney
It’s a bit of a paradox to consult an attorney about whether you need to hire an attorney. But, attorneys do this frequently. One of the more overlooked roles of an attorney is to advise you on the ‘big picture,’ or more foundational aspects of your case, including whether you need an attorney at all. An attorney can review the facts of your child support case, anticipate what law will be applied and what information is necessary to provide to the court and give you an idea on whether you might be able to handle it on your own or not.
Because attorneys get a lot of these requests, they often will not consult with you for free, especially if it would take a good amount of time to do so. But some will gladly spend an hour or two with you if you pay a consultation fee; and gaining a large amount of information from an expert for a small fee might be the best investment you could make.
What Do I Get For My Money, Is It Worth The Investment In A Child Support Attorney?
It certainly might be. Money is obviously the center point of a child support case, and getting an unfavorable child support order can cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
For example, if child support will last for 19 years, a difference of just $100 per month in child support will wind up costing you almost $23,000. A difference of $450 per month in child support will cost you more than $100,000, and this amount of variation in child support is a possibility in more cases than you might think. An investment in an attorney, at a fraction of what might be at stake for you in child support, is a wise investment.
What Can My Child Support Attorney Do That I Can’t Do On My Own?
Many things (much more than can be listed in a short blog article). Some of these include:
Child support can be incredibly complicated. An attorney can navigate the confusing child support rules, find case law which supports your case, identify exceptions for your case or grounds to deviate (increase or decrease) the typical child support obligation. Without a legal professional at your side, you run the risk of the opposing attorney arguing an incorrect calculation method, or the judge applying the wrong law, and you might have no idea that’s even occurred. It’s frighteningly common for a person to wind up paying or receiving child support which is hundreds of dollars too high or low.
Lawyers know what information to get, and how to get it. Do you need the other party’s pay stubs, tax returns, health insurance statements, bank records, business ownership interests, trust statements, military pension statements, or employment records? For the last year, five years, or something else? What if the other parent won’t give them to you? An attorney knows what information is essential, where to find it, and how to get it.
It can be incredibly hard for an unrepresented person to do things that are easy for an attorney, including drafting motions, briefs, and affidavits. Without these, your case might fail before you get a chance to enter a courtroom. A seemingly simple error might cause the dismissal of your case, limit what you are able to seek at trial, or cause a judge to view your case negatively from the start.
Presentation At Trial
Courtrooms are intimidating and evidentiary laws can be dizzying. If you don’t know which witnesses to call, what questions to ask or how to ask them, how to offer exhibits, or how to make objections (to name a few essential features of litigation), then you are at a severe disadvantage. A judge might not allow you to call witnesses or present exhibits at all, or limit your ability to do so, if you don’t comply with specific rules (some of which might require you to do things before you even enter the courtroom). Attorneys are familiar with these things, and can ensure your case is fully presented, while also giving you the peace and confidence of doing all the work in the courtroom for you.
To speak with an attorney about your child support case, call the SW&L family law team at 701-297-2890 or email us via the contact form below.
The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely on the information on this website as legal advice.