Child Support: Top Five Things You Should Know
3. Does it matter whether or not I was married to my child’s father?
According to Paul, “Marriage is not a factor in determining child support. However, with a marriage, there is usually a history of a child's expenses and joint decisions which aid in determining reasonable expenses in addition to child support -- such as private school, nannies, camp and extracurricular activities. When there is no marriage, there is more debate possible as to whether the child (a newborn or young child if the parents do not remain together for a long period of time) would have been afforded these expenses and if so, at what level.”
4. Will my attorney do everything for me?
No matter how much you would like for him to, your attorney can not do everything for you. So I suggest you view you and your attorney as a team that will work together to try to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your child(ren). With that being said, it will benefit you to be organized and proactive. You are going to have to turn over what feels like every piece of financial documentation you have accumulated in the past few years, so that your attorney can do their job. Help them, help you, by being as organized as possible, and meeting the deadlines that they set for delivery of said documents.
Mudita also points out, “It is important to discuss any circumstances you think are particular to your case with your attorney. For example, even though child support may be based on a formula, if your child has special needs, this could be a factor that could affect what you receive in add on expenses above and beyond basic child support.”
5. Will I get a fair outcome?
This is where I need to be completely honest with you and tell you that I found this process to be anything other than fair. And I am not even talking about the financial support amount that my ex and I settled on - I am talking about how the system is set up in a way that there is an opportunity for one party to be just uncooperative enough that it wears down the other party financially (every phone call and court visit and motion filed does cost money in legal fees) and emotionally, but doesn’t break the law.
In the 18 months that I worked with Paul and Mudita, we spoke a lot about fairness in the eyes of the court. I began to realize that there isn't a formula to take into account all of the time and energy it actually takes the custodial parent to raise a child, and I felt like my time had zero value to it in the eyes of the court. Yes, by law, my child’s father had to contribute to a portion of her basic expenses like food and clothing and medical bills, etc, as well as contribute to a portion of her childcare expenses while I am at work - but that is essentially where the formula ends.
Paul explains, “It is not a perfect process by any means and not entirely fair either -- to either party. Your goal should be to get the best result possible for the least cost to you. Too many people have other agendas (either overt or unconscious) to litigate their relationship in the court system. If that is the case, you've lost before you've begun.” And Mudita adds, “The system is not perfect and is not the place where one should expect to find “justice.” The goal of any child support proceeding should be to reach a resolution as quickly as possible for the least cost and emotional turmoil as possible. Often, the emotional drain of a case takes a much more substantial toll on someone, and this is an expense that will never be recuperated.”
But all of that being said, there is also no value that can be placed on the joy I get from my daughter every single day. And now that the child support case is behind me, I can focus on raising my daughter in the best way possible, with all of the love I have to give.