“States are required to review their child support guidelines every four years, but that doesn’t mean they will change them,” said Jane Venohr, an economist at the Center for Policy Research in Denver. As part of this review, states should consider the costs of raising children when considering child support. What this means in practice may vary, as states have great flexibility in their guidelines and in the data they can take into account to create those guidelines. Some states choose not to update their guidelines and formulas after reviewing them. “Non-custodial parents are entitled to a review of the child support order every three years, but can have the order reviewed before that date if there is a ‘substantial and material change of circumstances‘like custody or income, ”McCann said.
Decide if you want to represent yourself or get help before you go to court.
Represent you in court pro se, or on your own behalf, with caution. That said, you can complete the paperwork online or with the help of clerks at most courthouses. “Bring any information about your ex’s income to family court, you can file a child support claim in one day.” It will be a long day, ”said Green, describing the process in New York City. The court will set a date for a hearing, and you will need to serve your ex papers in advance. In New York, you have two choices. “You can ask someone over the age of 18 (but not you) to give these documents to your ex and then sign a notarized affidavit stating that he gave the papers to the defendant,” Green said. The other option is to let the family court mail the documents for you. Then you will bring your financial statements to the hearing that determines child support, Green said.
“The way this is done differs from state to state and even county to county within a particular state, and ranges from certified mail to delivery by the sheriff,” Venohr said. Handing over papers to your child’s other parent (“the accused”) can be intimidating, but it is important. Frances Pardus-Abbadessa, Assistant Executive Commissioner, New York City Human Resources Administration, Office of Child Support Services, said: Received timely notice.
At the hearing, if your ex is absent, the custodial parent must prove that the papers were served, Pardus-Abbadessa said. The notarized affidavit is proof that the papers have been served, and the case can then continue even if your ex does not show up. If the court is unsure of the meaning, it will adjourn the case. Then either the court asks the sheriff to serve those documents, or he (or you) hires a process server, which is an outside provider that serves all kinds of legal documents. Again, remember that every state is different, so make sure you are clear on the process when applying for support.
If you’re on good terms with your ex, work with a mediator.
If you can sit in a room with your ex, make a deal with a mediator. This person will negotiate a settlement based on the state support calculator and help you collect the financial forms, establish legal paternity or “parentage” and file the documents in court for you. This allows you to create your own schedule and conditions for recalculating assistance. You can return to the table every year, every three years, whenever there is a change in the circumstances of the job or whenever you want.
Hire a lawyer if you expect legal challenges or if you are a same-sex parent.
Get a lawyer if you expect legal challenges or if your ex is moving money. If you’re going to be chasing money, you need a lawyer, said Karen Van Kooy, managing partner at Israel, Van Kooy & Days in Brookline, Mass. “When I have had fights of this nature, I do an analysis not of the money they have, but the lifestyle they lead,” she said. “You may have to make a ‘discovery’ and formally request documents from them, which puts you in a situation of litigation.”
If you are a same-sex parent and are trying to get help from your ex-partner, or provide assistance, it is best to get a lawyer. Your rights depend on whether or not you are recognized as a parent in your state, and states vary in how they recognize “parentage.”