Washington DC law emphasizes the rights of children in every family law case. Every parent has a legal obligation to support their kids, and local judges have the power to enforce this obligation. Any parent who has less physical custody of their children must provide financial support to the other parent to help with child-raising costs, which includes clothing, shelter, food, and other necessities.
A legally binding child support order can have a substantial impact on a parent’s financial health as well as the wellbeing of their children. For this reason, it is best to work with a Washington DC child support lawyer when drafting an initial order, modifying a current arrangement, or contesting financial obligations requested by your child’s other spouse.
Ordering a Parent to Pay Child Support
According to the Code of the District of Columbia §16-916.03, a judge may consider whether to award child support to one party at any time that they deem appropriate during hearings concerning the care and custody of children. This means that a child support order could arise out of a divorce case, a custody dispute, or a paternity hearing.
Both parties have a legal obligation to care for their children, so either parent and their Washington DC attorney may request that a court consider awarding child support. A court may take the initiative in establishing these orders even if neither parent requests child support. Additionally, parents who are already subject to a support order can ask a judge to modify their child support order if their circumstances or income has changed.
Determining an Appropriate Amount
DC Code §16-916.01(a) states that if a judge finds that there is an obligation to pay child support, they must determine an appropriate amount and duration using certain statutory guidelines. For example, a family court must consider:
- The incomes of both parents
- Tax obligations
- Spousal maintenance obligations
- Any other active support orders
- Any income benefits such as SSI or SSDI
DC law also provides tables and worksheets that parents can use to estimate an expected child support payment amount. A child support lawyer in Washington DC could help parents utilize these guidelines and establish an appropriate amount of child support.
Get in Touch with a Washington DC Child Support Attorney Today
Providing a better future for your kids may require the assistance of a local lawyer if your child’s other parent is not fulfilling their financial obligations in relation to child-raising costs. Family courts have very little discretion when it comes to ordering either parent to provide child support to the other because child support is viewed as the right of the child.
Child support hearings evaluate the finances of both parties and may result in one parent being ordered to provide payments until that child becomes self-supporting or reaches the age of twenty-one, whichever happens first. It is also important to note that a family’s circumstances can change dramatically throughout a child’s life, and you have the right to seek a modification of a court order to ask a judge to modify an existing support order if your kids’ needs are not being met.
A Washington DC child support lawyer could assist you in establishing a fair order, modifying current terms, or even refuting these obligations altogether. Reach out to us today to learn more about how an attorney from our firm could help you.