If you are a parent going through a divorce, or have a child out of wedlock, you may be asked to pay child support. Usually, this process begins when the other parent files a petition. In such a scenario, you may be left wondering what sort of action to take. Learn about the process that occurs when you are involved in a child support proceeding.
The Rationale Behind Child Support
Society considers it a parent's responsibility to care for a child. This extends to the economic support of a minor child. According to 78B-12-105 of the Utah Code, parents are responsible for the costs associated with medical care and any other necessities. This applies even if the parents are not legally married. In most cases, this support will continue until the child reaches the age of majority. However, it is possible for support to extend even longer if the minor is disabled. In Utah, child support may become a relevant issue in divorce, separation or parentage cases. It may also be raised due to child welfare issues.
Once You Receive a Petition
It is important to respond to any petition for child support. Ideally, you will come to an informal agreement with the other parent prior to the start of court proceedings. However, this is not always possible. Instead, many parents choose to go through the judicial process to ensure that an appropriate amount of support is ordered. In the petition, or summons, you may be instructed to respond or to make a court appearance. In the latter case, you need to make sure that you get prepared beforehand. You may also consider hiring a family law attorney to represent you.
A Look at the Court Hearing
At a court hearing for child support, the judge will examine the financial situation of both parties. The court will also take into account how much time the child spends with each party. In addition, the judge will consider any special circumstances that add to the cost of raising the minor. The focus of these proceedings is always on the best interests of the child. Therefore, in the end, the judge's decision on an award amount will attempt to support these interests.
Getting Yourself Ready
It is never a good idea to show up to court unprepared. You should take the time to organize yourself before appearing in a family law matter. You'll need to gather proof of your income, expenses and any other requested documents. You may also need to perform a paternity test in some situations. If you do not respond or appear, the court may order a child support award in your absence. Of course, you can always rely on an experienced lawyer to assist you through the process.
Dealing with a child support matter can be more complicated than it seems. The law in child custody cases can be hard to understand. Furthermore, it can be difficult for the average person to present a case in court. In the end, you may want to work with a child custody attorney to help you understand your obligations and to confirm that the support calculations are appropriate.
For assistance with family law or child custody cases in Utah, get in touch with TR Spencer and Associates by visiting our legal services page.