How Does A Child Support Attorney Help?
In most cases, you do not need a lawyer for enforcement or modification of child support. The amount is based on the Washington State child support guidelines, and the state’s Division of Child Support (DCS) provides free collection service if the custodial noncustodial parent fails to pay.
However, there may be situations in which you do need legal representation. For example, it is sometimes necessary to get a court order to correct a miscalculation by DCS of arrears (unpaid child support). In that event, Seattle area family law attorney Clement Law Center can capably protect your interests.
At Clement Law Center, we will refer you to DCS if your needs can be met without hiring a lawyer. Contact us today for a consultation.
When Do You Need A Child Support Attorney?
You may need legal representation as the paying or recipient parent, for:
- Initial determination of child support at divorce
- Post-secondary support (see below)
- Contested paternity
- Contested modification
- Large amounts of child support arrears
- Interstate or international custody disputes
You probably do NOT need a lawyer for:
- Paternity actions to compel child support – The state can require a DNA test to establish paternity, and DCS will calculate support and enter the order in most cases.
- Collecting child support – DCS will collect unpaid child support on your behalf and has authority to garnish wages.
- Voluntary modification of child support – The court will amend the order upon a substantial change in circumstance, such as job loss.
However, a lawyer’s job is to help you find your way through the conflict ahead of you. Sometimes that may include heading to court. But frequently you may wish to look for a less conflict heavy solution, such as mediation.
How Mediation Can Change Your Child Support Dispute
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method that can lead to significant improvements for everyone in the child support issue. It involves finding a neutral third party who will serve to hear out both sides and build a working, mutually beneficial solution. The methods of mediation are geared toward a much more amicable outcome, but there are other benefits, such as:
- Privacy: As the mediator is not a public organization, the issues discussed there do not go on the public record. Anyone who values their privacy, any sensitive issues, may be more appropriate in mediation than open court.
- Efficiency: It is not simple or fast to get on a docket. Court dates can be months out in some cases, and all that time you spend waiting for court are days where the support discrepancy grows. You can be in front of a mediator much faster.
- Flexibility: Another major benefit of the private process is how you define a successful outcome. Primarily in child support, you’re looking for money. However, there may be other acceptable outcomes and you have the ability to explore all of them.
When you have a dispute over child support payments, what you want is action and a path forward. For many, mediation may make the most sense.
How Does College Impact The Child Support Agreement?
While child support typically ends when a child reaches the age of 18, parents in Washington can be required to contribute post-secondary education support (PSES) toward the costs of attending college. The amount of PSES can be a very contentious issue, and the statutory guidelines are subject to interpretation. We can help you determine PSES obligations and represent you in court as necessary.