This is the next post in my “Understanding Child Support Laws in Las Vegas” series. My last post explained how the Las Vegas family Courts handle cases in which the noncustodial parent is not paying child support. In this post, I will be discussing how to defend yourself when you are accused of not paying child support.
Documentation of all financial contributions to your child’s well-being is vital to a defense
While it may sound obvious, it is important to keep in mind the purpose of child support. Nevada Court’s require the noncustodial parent to pay child support as a way of ensuring that said parent contributes monetarily to the raising of their children. Once you have made these payments you are not legally obligated to pay for any cost related to your child – including clothing, school supplies, food, entertainment, etc. Of course many parents do choose to help cover these costs, and if you are financially able to do so, that is likely in your child’s best interest. However, many parents get into trouble when they take their child clothes shopping, cover health insurance, or pay for some other need of the child’s, but then do not have the money to make their Court Ordered child support payment.
There are a few guidelines that can be followed in order to avoid or correct this situation. One, always make your child support payment first. That is the payment you are legally responsible to make. It is your ex’s legal obligation to put that money towards your child’s needs. If the payment is not going towards the child, then that is your ex’s problem. Two, if you wish to split the cost of an expense with your ex, never pay in cash. Write your ex a check for your half and document in the memo what the expense is for. If you cover the whole cost of something for your child, keep a documentation of that payment. The reason for this is that if you are unable to make your child support payments, but have been paying for other things in your child’s life, the Court may give you credit for the expenses you have covered. But you must have a clear financial record that proves you have been monetarily supporting your child in other ways.
Be prepared with a proposal that outlines how you plan to catch up on your payments
If you have not been able to keep up with your child support payments, and have not paid for other things in your child’s life, the Court will Judge you partially on your efforts. When you go to Court, the Judge will make a decision on how to handle the situation based on how seriously you have taken your payments. If you have been making some effort to pay what you can, rather than completely missing your payment, the Judge may be more lenient. The Court will also be more favorable to a parent who has a proposal for how to catch up their payments. For example, if you have been out of work, but can prove that you have been actively searching and have a lead on a job, the Court may give you some time. If your economic situation has significantly changed since child support was ordered, your family law attorney may also be able to have your payments reduced. The important thing is to be proactive and show the Court that you are not attempting to dodge payments.
If you are behind on child support payments, hiring an attorney who routinely handles child support matters may mean the difference between fines and working out a feasible plan. Your attorney will know what the Judge will find an appropriate proposal, and what they will not accept. By hiring an attorney you can work out a financial plan that is manageable while avoiding additional fines and punishments. Contact our Las Vegas child support arrears attorney today for an initial consultation.