what does child support cover

What Does Child Support Cover? A Guide to Understanding Children Expenses

Over 14.7 million children currently live in households that receive child support payments. This amounts to about 1/5 of kids across the US. If your family is included among these ranks, you’re far from alone. If you’re just beginning to process of collecting this aid, you likely don’t know exactly what support you’re receiving.

So, what does child support cover, exactly? Read on to learn the ins and outs of these payments.

What Does Child Support Cover?

Child support will cover different things based on your family’s individual needs. One thing that it will always pay for, though, is your child’s basic living expenses. This will make up about 53% of the funds that you get from your ex-partner.

“Basic necessities” are defined as food, clothing, and shelter. This covers both groceries and other food items when you eat out at restaurants. You also can use the money to cover rent, mortgage, shoes, jackets, and seasonally appropriate clothing.

Note that shelter needs also go beyond mortgage and rent payments. It also covers internet bills and electric bills. Lighting and other utility bills also qualify as basic needs.

Medical Care and Expenses

Medical expenses are often frequently included in child support payments. It’s important to negotiate these expenses prior to the start of child support payments. The sum will be added to a monthly amount and given to the primary caregiver.

Out-of-pocket payments for medical care often require both parents to pay a certain percentage of the bill. If both parties make the same amount of money, this would be a 50/50 split.

Basic Educational Fees

There’s a common misconception that education is free if a child is in the public school system. However, even public classroom learning requires parents to foot bills for necessities like:

  • Lunch money
  • School uniforms (or other school-appropriate clothing)
  • Textbooks
  • Tuition fees (in certain areas)
  • Tutors for additional assistance

It’s reasonable that these fees should be considered when setting up child support payments.

Unfortunately, not all states require these expenses to be accounted for. If you live in one such state, you’ll need to work with a lawyer to negotiate terms that are agreeable to you. You likely will independently agree on a percentage-based system with the other parent so that each of you foots a reasonable amount of the bills.

Situational Expenses

In addition to these basic necessities, many parents reasonably expect other expenses to be covered by child support. School supplies are one education-related expense that’s in murky territory. Other things that may or may not be covered include:

  • Transportation to and from school
  • Transportation between parents who don’t live near each other
  • Expenses related to extracurricular activities
  • Automobile expenses for children aged 16 and older
  • Household goods and furniture that don’t fall under basic housing needs

Working with a family attorney to get the best court ordered child support deal is your best bet for getting these expenses covered. While the other parent isn’t going to pay for everything, regular support payments can take a huge burden off your shoulders.

Health Insurance

Both parents are responsible for a child’s medical expenses. However, child support payments do not cover health insurance.

Since most court orders do allow the primary caregiver some money that goes toward medical expenses, though, this sum can be applied to purchasing state-sponsored insurance. This usually is only required if neither parent has sufficient insurance through their workplace.

If one or both parent gets workplace health benefits, the child will be set up under that plan. The court will not include funds for health insurance within the final child support order.

This is the ideal scenario because the money received for medical expenses can then go toward “extraordinary” costs like braces and glasses. If you need to use it to buy insurance, you’re likely on your own for “extraordinary” expenses.


Child care is not usually included in support guidelines across the United States. Unfortunately, most kids who live with a single or separated parent need daycare or nanny services. After all, someone needs to look after them while that parent works.

Luckily, most courts acknowledge this and split the cost of childcare 50/50. If you have a good attorney who advocates for you, you may also get judges to take other factors like income into account. If one parent makes significantly more than the other, they may need to put more money toward daycare expenses.

College Tuition

In most states, 18 is the age of majority. Often, parents no longer need to pay child support at this point. However, this isn’t always the case.

Courts usually have the discretion to order both parents to pay for their child’s college education. There are several factors that judges will consider, including:

  • How financially dependent the child still is
  • The financial circumstances of each parent
  • The long-term expectations that the parents had for the child
  • Whether the child qualifies for loans, financial aid, and scholarships

How Is Child Support Calculated?

Once the courts figure out what expenses the child needs to be covered, they’ll look at a variety of factors to determine the sum of monthly child support payments.

The needs of the child are the first consideration. For example, a chronically ill child with more medical bills might require higher support payments than a healthy one would. A teenager between 15-17 years old will cost about $600 more monthly than a child under 2.

Courts also look at the amount of time that the child spends with each parent. If one parent cares for them year-round, the other may need to pay more support to make up for their freedom.

The general financial situation of each parent is also a factor. If one makes more money, they may need to pay more. If one is willfully unemployed or underemployed, that may affect the sum, too.

Talk With a Family Attorney Today

So, what does child support cover?

The underwhelming answer is that it depends, but there are certain things that will always be included in payments. Now that you know what to expect, it’s time to get legal assistance with your child support case.

A quality lawyer will represent the interests of yourself and your child when negotiating adequate support payments. Contact our team to get in touch with a reputable lawyer in your area.

types of divorce

A Guide to Different Types of Divorce

Navigating a divorce can take an enormous toll on your mental health. Research shows that divorce is strongly correlated with reduced mental and physical health. If you’re facing the prospect of divorce, one of the most important things you can do is look into the different types of divorce and decide which is right for you. 

Every couple’s situation is different, and it’s critical that you pursue a divorce process that has the highest chance of a good outcome for your individual circumstances. 

This can help reduce conflict, curb costs, and safeguard your future. 

Keep reading to find out about the different types of divorces to consider.  

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties agree on (or amicably negotiate) all particulars relating to the divorce. These include matters like:

  • Division of assets
  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Alimony

Uncontested divorce negotiations can happen privately or through professional mediation. If you and your spouse see eye-to-eye on the details of your divorce, you may be able to agree on all aspects of your divorce agreement without the help of a mediator. 

The next step is to get your divorce agreement officially drawn up with the help of an attorney. 

Mediated Divorce

Alternatively, if there are some areas of disagreement, but you are both committed to an amicable divorce, you can enlist the help of a mediator. They will help you reach common ground on any contentious details. 

Once you reach a mutual agreement, an attorney can help you finalize your divorce agreement. 

Collaborative Divorce

Another of the uncontested types of divorce is collaborative divorce. Here, both spouses hire a divorce attorney, and all parties work together to reach a settlement agreement outside of court. 

A collaborative divorce usually involves multiple meetings and negotiations. 

Benefits of Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested divorces are more affordable and faster than contested divorces. In some cases, they might not even require a divorce attorney. Statistics show that uncontested divorces cost $4,100 on average

Uncontested divorces can also have less emotional fallout. This can be particularly important if you have children and even is more critical if you’re going to continue to co-parent. 

Navigating a divorce with children adds another layer of complexity, which can make mutual agreement tougher. But, it also increases the importance of amicable proceedings. 

However, uncontested divorce is only a realistic route if both you and your spouse can agree on most issues. 

Contested Divorce

If both parties can’t agree on the terms of their divorce, this usually results in a contested divorce. 

During a contested divorce, both spouses have to be represented by a divorce attorney during mediation. This increases the cost of getting a divorce. 

If a full-scope divorce attorney is involved, the average cost of legal fees is $11,300 per spouse.

If both parties can’t reach an agreement during negotiation, uncontested divorce cases may have to go to court. Here, a judge will preside over the proceedings and make a final decision on the divorce agreement. This can further drive up costs. 

The statistics we referenced earlier show that divorces that go to trial for two or more issues cost $23,300 on average. 

Besides costing more, contested divorces also tend to take longer. The proceedings are more drawn out, and the process can also trigger increased levels of enmity between the separating spouses. 

At-Fault Divorce

Before 1970, there weren’t so many different types of divorces. Divorce proceedings could only be carried out if one spouse could prove the other at fault for things like infidelity or abuse. 

Fortunately, this changed in 1969, when California adopted no-fault divorce. Now, no-fault divorce is a core part of family law. All states in the US allow no-fault divorce. 

Some states also still allow at-fault divorce. 

During an at-fault divorce, one spouse has to provide evidence of the other party’s wrongdoing or fault in breaking down the marriage. The fault grounds vary between states.

They can include things like:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment
  • Imprisonment
  • Substance abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Incurable insanity
  • Inability to have sexual intercourse
  • Cruelty

Some states also allow courts to consider fault when determining division of property, alimony awards, or custody awards. If you can prove the other party is at fault, this might potentially increase your share of the divided property. 

It can also influence whether or not you win custody, especially if the court deems that the other party’s actions might be detrimental to the well-being of the children. 

Another reason someone might want to pursue an at-fault divorce is for feelings of validation. Being able to prove that the other party engaged in misconduct or wrongdoing can offer a sense of closure if you feel betrayed or wronged. 

However, it’s also important to note that at-fault divorces are far more complex, costly, and time-consuming. They can also have a huge emotional toll and fuel the fire of animosity. This can create added emotional distress for any children involved and prevent spouses from moving on. 

At-fault divorces can also involve public court proceedings. 

No-Fault Divorce

In a no-fault divorce, neither party needs to prove that the other spouse was guilty of misconduct. This allows couples to end marriages for reasons of their own choosing. 

All you have to do is state that the marriage is irretrievable or that there are differences that you aren’t able to reconcile. 

No-fault divorces are usually far cheaper, less complicated, and quicker. They are more streamlined, involve less paperwork, and less legal fees. No-fault divorces are also more private and can help reduce conflict by removing the need to assign blame. 

The only drawback to no-fault divorces is that, in some situations, they might result in an unfair division of assets. If you were financially dependent on your spouse and they were wholly responsible for the breakdown of the marriage, this could impact your financial stability unfairly.  

Legal Separation

If you aren’t ready for the finality of divorce or have religious or personal reasons that prevent divorce, you can also consider legal separation. 

Legal separation allows married spouses to live separately but remain legally married. Similar to a divorce, a legal separation can involve the division of assets and debts.

You can draw up an agreement around asset division, child support, custody, financial support, shared bank accounts, etc.

One of the potential benefits of legal separation is that it can allow for future reconciliation. The time apart can enable couples to reevaluate and reconstruct their relationship without the finality of divorce. 

Are You Considering One of These Types of Divorce?

Divorce is almost never easy, but one way you can try to streamline the process is by selecting the right avenue. Another way you can minimize stress and trauma is by choosing the right legal help.

No matter which types of divorce might apply to your situation, it’s critical that you have the right divorce attorney in your corner. One who specializes in family law and can protect your interests.  

Are you in need of a reputable family law firm? Use our directory to search for a divorce attorney in your area. 

how to get emancipated

How to Get Emancipated: What You Need to Know

The parent and child relationship is the most natural in the world. However, even with this relationship, there are situations in which it isn’t working out, and it would be in the best interests of the minor to set out on their own. 

The legal term for this process is called emancipation. There are more than 20 million emancipated minors in the United States today. 

When you understand the reasons for minors to become emancipated, along with the process, you’ll be able to make the right decisions moving forward. 

These points of information will teach you how to get emancipated so that you can handle this legal situation with the precision that it requires. 

What Is Emancipation?

The emancipation of minor means that a person under 18 legally files paperwork to become their own guardian. They become completely independent of their parents, and are able to take on certain rights for taking care of themselves. 

This includes things like the ability to sign contracts, obtain employment, get a driver’s license, and other points. In order for this process to take place, the minor will need to present evidence to the court, at which point the judge will have final say over the decision. 

Understand Emancipation Law

It’s vital that you understand the legal requirements and ramifications of emancipation so that you’re well informed. The process starts in the juvenile branch of your family law court. You start by filing a petition with the judge. 

In most states, you need to be at least 16 years old and must satisfy certain legal requirements. Some situations in which a minor may become emancipated include:

  • Abuse or unfit parenthood
  • Entering into a legal marriage
  • Joining the armed forces or other professional commitments
  • The willingness and financial ability to care for oneself
  • The minor and their parents have family circumstances that make it best for both parties

You’ll need to study the emancipation laws in your state to make sure that you meet these requirements. From there, you can research the correct court and make sure that you put in your paperwork to get the ball rolling on the process. 

Learn What Emancipation Dictates

Now you understand what emancipation is, but that begs the question — is it right for you? It may not be all it’s cracked up to be depending on your life circumstances. 

Take the time to understand these emancipation law details so that you can understand if it’s a suitable situation for your life:

You Must Be Willing to Support Yourself

First and foremost, you need to be able to completely support yourself if you’re going to be emancipated. There’s no such thing as being halfway emancipated, so you need to check your bank account, resources, and employment and make sure that it’s suitable to support your life. 

This means having a place to live and being disciplined enough to budget and manage your money. Many teenagers fantasize about living on their own but find out it’s better left a fantasy once they realize everything they are now responsible for. 

Consider consulting with a financial advisor and seek the counsel of someone that you trust before making this sort of decision. 

It’s Important to Be Emotionally Sound

Emancipation is far more than just a financial decision. You need to make sure that you’re emotionally mature and stable enough to live on your own — especially given the circumstances. 

In many situations, being emancipated from a parent is a traumatic, yet necessary decision to make. This doesn’t mean that it’s without emotional repercussions, so you need to be prepared to get mental health services or otherwise heal during this process. 

Make sure that you are mature enough to make sound decisions regarding the direction of your life since you must now be your own counsel and sounding board. It may not be the best decision if you have serious mental or emotional issues that haven’t been worked through, and it’s not a decision to rush into. 

You Need a Plan

Only move forward with emancipation if you have an ironclad, well-thought-out game plan. This includes where you will live, how you will finish your high school diploma or general education development (GED) certificate, and how you will continue your education or enter a trade. 

Audit your circle of friends and influences and make sure that they are net positives in your life. Take some time and effort to think about your plan. This way, it’s not a rash decision, and your emancipation is more likely to be granted if you show forethought. 

Emancipation May Burn a Bridge

Keep in mind also that there’s no turning back once you decide to get emancipated. Your parents will no longer have any obligations or control over your life. 

This may be necessary, but it might also build resentment. It’s possible that it will create or worsen wounds that will take some time to heal if they heal at all. 

Weigh the pros and cons of this decision while keeping this in mind. 

Hire an Attorney

Simply put, emancipation is a complex process. You’re going to need legal help so that you understand the process and are able to get accepted. 

Research and hire a lawyer with years of experience, and get a series of consultations before making a decision on which law firm to work with. 

How to Get Emancipated 101

These tips explain in detail how to get emancipated. It’s a legal process that you should never go through on your own, so arm yourself with the right information. 

Family Attorneys Near Me has the resources that you need to get the help that you’re seeking. Take advantage of our family law information to help with your emancipation or any other type of case. 

divorce with children

Navigating a Divorce with Children Involved

About 50% of American children will experience a parental divorce at some point. Even when the decision to divorce is the best thing for the kids involved, this is still a stressful and difficult time. It’s important that parents navigate divorce with children the right way to minimize the mental and emotional toll on their little ones.

Here, we’re going to discuss the basics of separating when children are involved. Read on to learn how to talk with your kids, determine custody agreements, and more.

Talking to Children About Divorce

Children are going to ask questions immediately after you inform them of your divorce. The specifics of these questions will depend on their age. Younger kids may not even know what divorce is, so you might need to start with the basics.

Don’t shy away from any questions that they have. Being secretive will likely make them anxious and confused in an already stressful time.

It also may make them more curious so they seek out answers elsewhere. You don’t want them learning about divorce from inaccurate websites or misinformed classmates. Be open, honest, and transparent.

You and the other parent need to make time to sit down with your child and tell them what’s happening. Stress that you love them and both plan to remain part of their lives. Tell them about potential life changes like visitation, school changes, and more.

Openness is key, and informing children of how you plan to meet their emotional needs is even more important.

What About Special Situations?

If you and your ex are simply fighting your way through an acrimonious divorce, your children don’t need to know about your resentment for each other. In fact, they shouldn’t.

It’s important to remain cordial in front of the kids regardless of how difficult that is. Fighting and arguing can be traumatic. It could even make them feel aggressive and decrease their cognitive skills.

Remember that both parents are important to the child. Put their needs first by remaining civil.

However, there are special cases including:

  • Situations of domestic violence
  • One parent leaving the children as well as the spouse
  • A parent being in jail

In these cases, you may need the help of a family therapist to explain what’s happening to the children. If you don’t feel equipped to handle a sensitive and potentially triggering topic, take yourself and your child to a professional that will help you explain the situation.

Determining Custody Arrangements

There are multiple types of custody arrangements available to parents. In cases of regular divorce, you likely will retain joint custody of the child.

Sharing custody means that both parents will be involved in decisions regarding the kids. Some decisions might include education, moral development, and medical care.

This can be challenging when parents don’t live together. Children may spend the school week with one parent and the weekends with the other if you live nearby. They may spend the school year with one parent and breaks with the other if you don’t live in the same state or region.

Hiring a divorce lawyer can help you figure out the right type of custody arrangement in your situation. An attorney can discuss realistic possibilities, visitation rights, and more. They also can help you figure out how to talk to children about the divorce’s impact on their daily lives, location, and education.

Custody Battles

In the best-case scenario, you and your ex will be able to decide on a custody arrangement with minimal issues. You will sit down with a mediator and focus on what’s best for the kids. Being civil and realistic can save you and your children a lot of stress.

However, in some cases, a custody battle is inevitable. You’ll first need to attempt mediation or prove why doing so is hopeless. Domestic abuse cases are usually the ones with hopeless mediation.

In a custody battle, you’ll need to:

  • Work with a lawyer to gather evidence to support custody-related arguments
  • Give your ex-spouse copies of this evidence in a process known as “discovery”
  • Present your side at a trial/hearing
  • Adhere to the plan that the court rules as best for the child

Do not overly involve your children in the process of a custody battle. They do not need to hear about your bitter arguing. However, you might work with a lawyer or therapist to discuss the child’s needs and wants when it comes to their living situation and education.

Many custody battles end in sharing custody. However, if domestic violence or neglect is present, one parent may be awarded full custody.

In these cases, the other parent may or may not end up with supervised visitation. It’s important that you are fully aware of all specifics regarding custody. Both parents need to know their rights.

Figuring Out Finances

Families with joint custody need to determine which parent is responsible for the child’s financial needs. In some cases, one parent may pay for their education and travel needs while the other buys food and daily necessities. In other situations, parents may pay for all needs when they are looking after the child.

This is something to discuss with a lawyer present. Make an agreement in writing. Fill out legally-binding paperwork to protect both parties.

In situations where one parent gets full custody, child support and alimony payments may be in order. This means that the absent parent pays a certain amount monthly to contribute to the child’s upkeep. It may happen in situations where one parent chooses to give up the child or after situations of abuse/neglect.

You’ll need to go through the courts to determine the ins and outs of child support payments. An experienced attorney can help to get you the highest possible sum.

Have a Smooth Divorce With Children Involved

Now that you know some tips to make a divorce with children less stressful, it’s time to begin looking for a family attorney. Family Attorneys Near Me is committed to offering free information and resources for family legal issues.

We’ll help you find a divorce/custody lawyer to help you navigate this difficult time. Contact us with any questions you have about finding an attorney, the consultation process, and beyond.

selecting a divorce lawyer

Selecting a Divorce Lawyer: Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Divorce is common, and a sore spot for many people each year. Right now, divorces happen at a rate of 2.5 per 1,000 people, per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

If you happen to be among them, the main way to soothe this stress and move forward with life is by finding the help of a divorce attorney. Learning more about hiring an attorney for your case will help you make the right legal arrangement, so that your case is resolved peacefully and in your favor. 

To make this happen, there are some common mistakes you need to avoid when selecting a divorce lawyer. 

Not Exploring Your Reasons for Divorcing

It’s important that you consider your reasons for divorcing your spouse. When your reasons are clear and laid out, you’ll also be clear on the type of lawyer that you need to hire. You might need a certain law firm to assist you in a cooperative divorce. These lawyers might even have mediators on staff that can smooth things out and help the two of you come to some workable compromises. 

You may need a lawyer with extensive divorce trial experience if your case is contentious or stressful. There may also be some special circumstances that dictate the type of attorneys you hire. 

For example, you will have different circumstances that you’re working with for a military divorce than you would for a civilian divorce. Other lawyers might specialize in clients with large sums of money and expensive assets on the line. Figure out the details of what you need and it’ll help you when it’s time to make a hire. 

Failing to Vet Their Credibility and Read Reviews

Reading online reviews is one of the best ways to find leads on an attorney that can help you with your divorce case. These reviews will give you a head start on what you should know about hiring a lawyer, along with their strengths, credibility, and main areas of specialty. 

Hearing about how other people have found success with a lawyer can help you feel more at peace with your decision to hire them. Make sure to also choose someone who has proven experience that you can verify by checking with the bar association. They need to be qualified to practice in your state, whether your case ends in a trial or a peaceful divorce settlement. 

Foregoing a Pre-Hire Meeting

Another common. mistake divorcees make is either skipping out on the pre-hire consultation, or not taking it seriously enough. This is the time that you get to have all of your questions answered, while also finding out if the firm you are considering is the most qualified to take your case. 

People often rush through these meetings or don’t think to ask all of the questions that they have on their minds. Do your research going into the meeting so that you are fully prepared, and that you only hire a lawyer once they have the answers that you’re looking for. 

Not Exploring Their Fees

Start comparing lawyer fees so that you’re able to get the most from you hiring experience. While divorcing requires the best legal help that you can find, you should never overspend on the service that they offer. Get about four different estimates to make sure that you have an idea of what the market is charing for these legal services. 

Ask the lawyer about how they structure their fees. Most lawyers will charge by the hour for divorce legal services. Find out their billing practices and get them in writing to make sure they operate with complete transparency. 

You Didn’t Do Enough Research

Even though you’re hiring the lawyer to take over your case, the onus is still on you to do some research into the different firms available. Learn as much as you can about divorce law in your state and compare notes with the law firm to make sure you’re all on the same page. 

You should do as much research into their prior record to make sure that they have the divorce case experience you need to win your case. Many people are so anxious to hire a lawyer that they don’t do enough due diligence. And unfortunately, they end up paying for it in the end. 

Not Reaching Out to Your Inner Circle

You should also ask the people closest to you who have divorced about their experience with the lawyers that they hired. These are the people closest to you, so they are an excellent source of information anytime you need help getting referrals or leads on a good divorce firm. 

Find out as much detail as you can about what they liked or disliked about the firm, and whether they would recommend them to others. 

Forgetting to Look at the Big Picture

Several people also make the mistake of not looking at the big picture with their case. Divorce is a lifelong decision, so you need to choose a lawyer who can not just handle the initial hearing, but who can also foresee issues that might come up in the future. 

This might include things like ongoing child custody hearings, changes in child support, or seeking alimony. 

Selecting a Divorce Lawyer That Can Help You

These tips are helpful when you’re selecting a divorce lawyer that can assist you with your case. 

Family Attorneys Near Me is the directory that you need to rely on when you’re interested in finding a quality set of attorneys that can help you with your legal needs. Rely on us for content that can help you out, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions that you have. 

Child support

Do You Pay Child Support If You’re Unemployed?

About 1 in 5 children live in homes that receive child support payments. If you give child support to an ex-spouse, you likely have struggled to give the appropriate amount sometimes. If you’re unemployed, this becomes a nearly impossible challenge.

Read on to learn whether you need to pay child support when you’re out of a job (and how you can lessen the burden on yourself).

Do You Pay Child Support if You’re Unemployed?

Unfortunately for unemployed parents, the answer to this question is a resounding “yes.”

Unemployment doesn’t make a standing child support order any less valid. If you’ve been ordered to put out monthly payments by the court, those stop for no one.

If you fail to pay when unemployed, you will still need to pay up eventually. Until you do, it will accrue interest. You’ll need to pay an even heftier sum down the line, so it’s best not to skimp out on your payments even if you’re unemployed.

In more extreme cases, you could wind up with jail time, too.

What if You Can’t Afford It?

A lot of parents who don’t have child custody will talk to their former spouse if they’re unemployed. They might be able to come to an informal arrangement.

Unfortunately, these personal agreements mean nothing in a court of law. You’re still legally required to pay the originally-ordered sum. Your ex-spouse can sue you if you don’t.

Luckily, there are ways that you can negotiate a smaller payment. You need to work with an experienced family lawyer to request a modification to your support order. When you do, you can discuss your individual circumstances with the attorney and see how much you can realistically decrease your support payments.

How Does This Work?

The process of changing your child support order might slightly vary depending on your state. However, in almost every case, your lawyer will prepare court papers and file them for you. This paperwork, a Complaint for Modification form, will state that there is a difference between the court’s original order vs what you can pay now.

At that point, your lawyer will submit it to the court clerk. The clerk will give them a Summons in exchange.

This Summons informs your ex-spouse that you have filed for a change to the child support order. It tells them that they might want to consider going to court to deal with the legal case you’ve filed.

Some states also will let you file these papers on your own. However, this is a bad idea since you likely don’t have adequate training to read and interpret legal documents. It’s important that an expert files everything to make sure that all Ts are crossed and all Is are dotted.

Your lawyer will also help you serve the Complaint and Summons. They’ll bring the papers to the constable, who will take them to your ex-spouse. You’ll get the original summons back after the paperwork is served in addition to a filled-out Proof of Service section.

This is a great thing to keep for your records.

Going to Court

The point of the Complaint and Summons is to get you a court date. On this day, you’re going to need to bring a Financial Statement form to the court.

It’s important that you also send a copy to your ex-spouse. This will let them know exactly what you requested. You’ll also need to make sure they have a blank copy of the form to fill out so that everyone stays on the same page.

This is going to be tough if you try to do it on your own. After all, communicating with the other parent isn’t always easy, and it can be stressful to talk to someone you’ve had an acrimonious break-up with. An attorney can mediate, send the forms between parties, and nip unnecessary conflicts in the bud.

This makes the entire process much more painless for everyone.

You’re then going to go to court on the day that you scheduled for your hearing. Your lawyer will come with you so that you can have the best representation available. They also will make sure that all your paperwork is ready to go and bring copies to court.

So, How Much Can You Modify?

You won’t be able to choose any child support amount you like. It’s going to be based on the work possibilities available to you.

These possibilities are called ‘imputed income.’ Your imputed income will come from an assessment of your previous employment, income from those jobs, and your ability to earn more down the line. Basically, your ability and willingness to make money are primary considerations.

If you can work, the court can figure out how much you’d be able to earn. If they can’t, they might just tell you that you need to pay based on the minimum wage in your state. Your lawyer can help you figure this out and try to get you the lowest possible sum for child support payments.

Can You Pay Child Support With Unemployment Income?

If you don’t have any income, you likely are considering signing up for unemployment. If you haven’t already, check with your state’s unemployment office. Sign up for benefits.

Then, talk with the office and show them the outstanding payments you haven’t made on child support. Your state office will probably just set up a way for those fees to be taken from your unemployment benefits. You won’t even need to worry about manually paying them back.

However, this can only happen if you qualify for unemployment. You need to be actively looking for work and prepared to show proof of that.

If you don’t qualify because you’re just underemployed or are avoiding getting a job, you’re not going to have tons of options. The court’s going to defer to how much you could be earning based on your education and past income.

You need to be very proactive about finding a job. If you aren’t, you’ll lose the unemployment benefits needed to pay for not only your livelihood but also your child support payments.

Get Started

Now that you know what happens when you’re unemployed and have child support payments, it’s time to get started.

Our team is committed to helping you find a family lawyer in your area that can help. Contact us to learn more about what we do and how we can assist you with your legal case.

divorce attorney

The Most Common Reasons People Seek a Divorce Attorney

A divorce can be a complicated and emotional legal process. Even if both spouses agree that it’s time to part ways, there can still be intricate issues to resolve and complex steps to follow. 

While you may prefer to work through this process on your own, it’s best to hire a divorce attorney. This expert will be able to support you throughout this journey and make sure everything is completed correctly.

Today, we’re sharing the most common reasons why people seek out this type of legal support, and how to get in touch with our divorce attorneys today. 

Obtain Professional Advice

A divorce lawyer will understand all of the legal nuances that apply to your case. Each divorce is unique, but there are state laws that will apply in every case. Your attorney can walk you and your spouse through the entire process, from start to finish.

Often, this means helping each party understand what they are entitled to, depending on the specific situation. They can also advise you on how to handle complicated issues, such as:

  • Child custody 
  • Child support
  • Debts and assets
  • Future assets
  • Substantial income

When you work with your spouse alone, the issues can get messy, not to mention heated. Having a lawyer present can keep your conversations cordial and productive. Your attorney can also help protect your interests in the event of a divorce, helping to ensure that you receive everything you’re entitled to. 

Avoid Costly Mistakes

Unless you are trained and experienced in the field of family law, it’s all too easy to make a mistake when filing your divorce papers. There are two reasons this can happen.

First, the legal system is inherently complicated and filled with industry jargon. There is the potential for many small errors to occur. Some might seem minuscule in context, but they can have long-reaching implications. 

For example, you may forget to include a detail about your personal finances, such as the credit card debt you’ve incurred. Or, in your rush to get the process over with, you could have misjudged the value of a particular asset. These mistakes might seem insignificant in the larger picture, but they could have a major impact on your divorce proceeding. 

Second, a divorce is emotional and stressful. When you’re in the throes of one, it can be difficult to shift into an organized, administrative mindset. You might not be able to think clearly, much less obtain, complete, and file the requisite paperwork. 

Your divorce lawyer will help you complete each part of the case, making sure you don’t miss a single detail. This way, you can avoid making an omission or error that could affect your long-term outcome. 

Minimize Stress

According to one survey, 44% of people believe that a divorce is one of the most stressful life events that anyone can go through. Your emotions during this time are completely valid and natural, but they can make the process much more difficult. 

This is one of the most important reasons you should hire a divorce lawyer. Yes, your attorney will need to gather details and information from both of you. However, once they have the data and documents they need, they can take care of almost all of the remaining paperwork and procedures. 

This means that you have more time to turn inward and focus on yourself, as well as your family. This can be an incredibly freeing opportunity, allowing you to devote more free time to your work, your children, or your loved ones.

A divorce can be taxing and stressful enough. Allow an attorney to handle the legal legwork so you don’t have to.

Clarify Your Intentions

It’s important to realize that divorce decrees are classified as clear and binding agreements. In short, this is a type of contract between two parties that is enforceable by the law. 

Before you enter into one, it’s critical to make sure you completely understand all of the stated terms. The divorce documents that you present to the court should be thorough and accurate, and a lawyer will guarantee that this is the case.

Without their support and counsel, you could submit documents that do not entirely represent your intentions. Or, the court could misunderstand the points you intended to make. As a result, the official divorce decree could wind up containing terms you are not 100% comfortable abiding by. 

Divorce lawyers know how to analyze each legal document for accuracy. They will make sure each one you present is free of any errors, as well as any ambiguous or unclear language that could make the agreement difficult to enforce. 

Expedite the Process

When an error occurs during a divorce proceeding, it takes time to resolve. This could mean dragging your divorce case out even longer. 

Even if you’re careful to use only court-provided documents, you could still make a mistake. For instance, you could complete the wrong form, provide inaccurate information, or fail to include a key document. If there’s an issue with the paperwork (or any other part of the process), the court could take longer to reach a ruling. 

With the best divorce attorney by your side, you can avoid these frustrating delays and finalize your divorce as quickly as possible. 

Hire a Divorce Attorney Today

As you can see, there are many benefits to hiring a divorce attorney! This legal process can be complex, stressful, and tense, and it isn’t one that you want to tackle on your own. A divorce lawyer can help you complete everything in a timely and accurate manner. 

If you’re going through a divorce, we can help you find the experienced, reputable family lawyer you need. Create an account on our website to join our community and use our online search tool to find local attorneys near you!

Family Law

8 Things You Need to Know About Family Law

According to survey results, Americans’ knowledge of civic law has jumped in the last couple of years. However, knowing your civic rights is a very different kettle of fish from family law. Most people are largely unaware of what family law involves until they find themselves facing things like divorce or child custody arrangements

So what is family law? Family law is a crucial branch of law that governs matters related to family, shared property, and dependents. 

If you’re entering into marriage, dissolving one, or dealing with any other family matter that involves things like division of property, child support, etc. you might want to familiarize yourself with some of the basic facts around family law. 

Get informed and keep reading to find out 8 key things to know about family law. 

1. Estate Planning Falls Under Family Law

Estate planning is one of the most critical (and often overlooked) areas that family law encompasses. Reports reveal that 67% of Americans don’t have an estate plan. 

One reason for this is that most of us don’t enjoy thinking about our mortality. Estate planning can easily become one of those personal “admin” tasks that get put on the back burner. 

However, proper estate planning is critical for ensuring the financial security of your family. It can also help preserve family relationships, reduce disputes, and cut down on the costs involved in winding up a diseased estate.

If you need to conduct estate planning, one of the first things to do is seek out a lawyer who specializes in family law. They will be able to help you develop a plan to mitigate estate taxes, draft a clear, undisputable will, draft living trusts, and help you create things like a durable power of attorney 

2. Prenuptials Are Another Area of Family Law

Many people are aware that divorce is a family court matter, but did you know that pre-nuptials are another branch of family law?

Just like family law governs the dissolution of marriage, it also covers marriage contracts.

Similar to estate planning, marriage contracts are another area of family law that is very easy to overlook. If you’re caught up in the early stages of romance, the last thing you probably want to think about is legal matters. 

However, creating a well-thought-out, comprehensive marriage contract is critical. Marriage contracts and pre-nuptial agreements stipulate how your property is combined, and how it’s divided should your marriage come to an end. 

Most couples do not want to consider this eventuality when they’re on the verge of tying the knot. But creating a comprehensive marriage contract is as important as drawing up a will. Often, marriage contracts and wills overlap, as they both deal with what happens to your property in the event of your death. 

3. Family Law Also Covers Abuse and Domestic Violence

Because family law handles matters relating to family, it also covers abuse and domestic violence. If you, your child, or someone you know has suffered from domestic abuse, you should consult with an attorney who specializes in family law as soon as possible. 

4. If You’re Getting a Divorce You’ll Want to Hire a Family Lawyer

Divorce is one of the most well-known branches of family law. Family law governs how property is divided during a divorce and how alimony is determined. It also decrees what constitutes as legal grounds for divorce, and who is the “at-fault” party in states that operate under the fault divorce system. 

If you’re in the process of getting divorced, a family attorney can help you navigate the process and ensure an equitable outcome. 

5. Family Law Encompasses Child Custody Matters

If there are children in a marriage, child custody is often one of the most important, and sometimes sensitive, matters to resolve. 

Family law encompasses everything to do with child custody, including physical custody, visitation rights, child support, etc. 

6. Family Law Varies by State

Here in the US, we operate under two legal systems, the federal system and the state-level legal systems.

Every state has its own legislation, and family law comes under the jurisdiction of state law. Federal law doesn’t cover cases related to family law.

Also, even though a new law or bill can be created or amended under federal law, this doesn’t necessarily change anything on a state level. It is up to the individual states to adapt their constitution to new federal legislation. 

Therefore, laws can vary widely between states. 

If you are going through a divorce, drafting a will—or anything else that falls under family law—you need to consider your specific state’s legislation. The specifics of your case can vary widely depending on what state you reside in and its specific laws. 

For instance, some states operate under an at-fault divorce system and others don’t. 

7. Family Law Isn’t Necessarily About Winning

Another important thing to know about family law is that, unlike civil law, it’s not always about winning. Yes, you want to ensure your rights are upheld and that you receive a fair and just outcome, but the focus isn’t necessarily on one party winning and the other losing. Instead, family law cases are often a process of negotiation whereby both parties (ideally) receive a favorable outcome. 

Thanks to this, the majority of family law cases are often settled out of court through processes like mediation. For example, statistics reveal that 90% of child custody disputes settle without a courtroom ruling. 

Because family law often doesn’t involve liability, a process known as collaborative family law has emerged. Under collaborative family law, attorneys have an increased focus on preserving relationships between family members, while negotiating for positive outcomes for all parties. 

8. Family Law Is Subject to Change

Family law is also unique in that it’s one of the branches of law most subject to change. Instead of remaining static, family law needs to evolve along with society. 

For instance, while same-sex marriage wasn’t recognized in a number of states until recently, it is now legal in all states. 

Are You in Need of a Family Law Attorney?

As its name suggests, family law encompasses legal matters to do with families, such as marriage contracts, child support, alimony, divorce, estate planning, and domestic abuse. 

Whether you’re embarking on marriage, dissolving your legal union, trying to get custody, or simply looking to draft a will, you need a good family law attorney on your side. 

Not sure where to find one? We can help.

Create an account, or search for family lawyers near you from our homepage.