Child support, ongoing periodic payment from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent, is a very important issue for parties on both sides of the transaction. Your financial security and your child’s welfare depend on a fair court order. But getting a fair order is not always easy, nor is modifying the order when circumstances change. Fortunately, David A. Hawley, P.A. has the knowledge and experience to advocate effectively for appropriate child support orders. After more than 25 years of family law practice, I am ready and able to pursue justice for you and for your children.
Kansas law holds that both parents have a responsibility to support their child, and the courts must rely on state guidelines that factor in both parents’ incomes. But the only way those guidelines can work is if the court gets the right numbers. As your divorce attorney, my most important task is to make sure your child support order is based on your actual financial circumstances. I use the discovery process to ensure the other parent fully discloses all income and does not attempt to hide financial assets from the court.
It’s also important to understand that basic child support in Kansas is subject to numerous adjustments, and some of those are totally discretionary. Adjustments for health, dental, orthodontic and optometric premiums, and work-related childcare costs are routine. But courts also order adjustments for parenting time, tax considerations, a child’s special needs, and support beyond the age of majority (which is 18). Courts also routinely order payments of summer camp costs and private or parochial school tuition when appropriate.
Courts base their decisions on various factors:
For affluent parents, it is often best to negotiate adjustments to basic child support so you have greater control over the outcome than you would if you left it up to the judge.
Kansas Child Support Services (CSS), a division of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, assists parents on both sides of the transaction with direct deposit or debit card payments. CSS can also assist with enforcement of obligations, even across state lines. If a parent ordered to pay support refuses to pay, CSS can initiate enforcement proceedings, which could even lead to remedies as harsh as wage garnishment or incarceration. If a parent with the means to pay is holding out in response to problems with the custodial parent, such as interference with visitation, I always recommend paying the child support obligation and taking the other issue to court. Failing to pay child support places the nonpaying parent outside the law and only makes it harder to get a favorable ruling on the visitation issue.
Unfortunately, contrary to conventional wisdom, most cases of unpaid child support don’t arise from parental indifference. The overwhelming majority of cases of unpaid child support are due to financial hardship.
When there has been a substantial change in circumstances, a parent on either side of the transaction can file a motion to modify the court’s child support order. Facts that might justify a modification include:
A parent who finds it impossible to meet child support obligations should contact an attorney immediately to petition the court for a modification. It may seem more reasonable to save on attorney fees and court costs and just make an informal agreement with the recipient parent. But there’s no guarantee the recipient parent will still be amenable to that new agreement one month or two months in the future. In the meantime, the old order stays in place and has the force of law. So, if the recipient parent ever wanted to enforce the old order, the court would enforce it. Rather than let child support arrears pile up and come back to haunt you, you’ve got to go to court for a new order.
David A. Hawley, P.A. helps parents throughout Wichita obtain fair child support orders during and after divorce. Call me today at 316-469-6809 or contact me online to arrange a consultation. My office is in the Hayford East Building at 129 East 2nd Street, in the heart of Old Wichita.