It’s frightening to think that a judge who knows very little about you and your children will be determining how much child support you will owe ( or receive ). And yet today’s child support system is built on judges interpreting financial information that is passed on to them by parents and lawyers. Certainly, the system isn’t perfect, but it exits to protect and provide for children around the country.
Don’t entertain unrealistic expectations.
The court will determine child support based on all of the information supplied – by you and your ex – as well as the state’s child support guidelines. If you suspect that your ex is being untruthful about his or her earnings, say so. In cases where the courts suspect voluntary improverishment, the judge will impute a parent’s income. In other words, the court will establish the parent should be able to earn, based on past employment, education, etc..
However, don’t get so caught up in what should be ordered that you refuse to see the facts of the situation. If your ex has little –to-no actual income, the amount of child support awarded is going to be minimal. And while that may be disappointing, it’s also important to be realistic as you look at the facts of your case and prepare yourself for court.
Don’t stray from the topic at hand
The purpose of your child support hearing is for the judge to decide how much child support you will receive or owe. He or she doesn’t have the authority to change your child custody order or visitation arrangements at the same time, so don’t cause unnecessary distractions by attempting to discuss those other issues during your child support hearing.
Don’t arrive late to your child support hearing- or fail to show up at all.
Do yourself a favor and get there early. This way, an unexpected traffic jam wont ruin your chance to make a good first impression on the judge. And don’t be surprised if your case doesn’t start on time. If other cases are taking longer than expected, just use the time to settle your nerves and take a few deep breath before your case begins.
Don’t attempt to manipulate the information you’re supplying to the courts
Be 100% truthful on each and every form you fill out. Don’t neglect to report under-the-table income or over-report you financial needs in an attempt to control the amount of child support that will reflect poorly on you in front of the judge.
Don’t ignore your email
We’ve all been there; sometimes you get so overwhelmed, it seems easier not to look. But it’s imperative that you read every piece of mail that comes to you from your lawyer, your ex’s lawyer, or the courts. It’s best to read it once, set it aside for 30 minutes or so, and then read it again. This will help you avoid the mistake of misreading or misinterpreting what you’re reading. And when you’re required to take action, do so in a timely manner. Don’t put off replying to a request, contacting your lawyer, or following through on things you’ve said you would do.