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Some things are negotiable, others are not, re child support

Do you consider yourself a diplomatic type of person who is usually able to amicably resolve differences in a fair and agreeable manner? If so, those attributes likely came in handy during your divorce proceedings, especially when it came time to negotiate a new parenting plan. You always were one who was willing to compromise and cooperate; however, marriages and parenting typically include two people, and if your former spouse was more on the selfish side, then problems may not always have been easily solved.

Like most good fathers in Louisiana, you were fully prepared to pay child support to supplement your children’s care as you all move forward in a new lifestyle. Just like in marriage, you went into the whole situation ready to strike a fair deal. One thing to keep in mind if you’re worried about someone trying to take advantage of you financially or cause legal problems concerning child support is that you have rights, and just because you get divorced doesn’t mean you abdicate your rights as a parent.

Key factors to keep in mind regarding child support

Child support issues, as well as all other child-related matters in divorce, are governed at the state level. This means the guidelines in Louisiana may vary from those in other states. There are typically common factors among all states, however, of which you’ll want to be aware so you have an idea of what to expect:

  • Although the court may decide otherwise, the most common situation of child support includes a non-custodial parent making payments to provide for children residing with their other parent or another family member or guardian.
  • Several factors generally determine whether child support will be paid. These include mutual agreements between parents, negotiated agreements in alternative dispute resolution sessions or by court decision.
  • Whether you and your spouse devised your own child support plan and sought the court’s approval or hashed it out in court, once the court stamps its seal of approval on a particular plan, it is set in stone unless you or the other parent files a formal request for modification. Otherwise, all parties must adhere to the existing court order.
  • How much you pay and how often are decided according to individual circumstances, what the court feels is in your children’s best interests and in alignment with state guidelines.

Let’s say you make monthly payments on time for a year when you suffer an unexpected job loss. You know you’re in for tough times and that it will be a struggle just to pay your bills and make ends meet at home, much less continue to meet your child support obligations. Can you simply contact your former spouse and say you’re going to need to take a break from full payments but will catch up as soon as you find a new job? The answer is a resounding no.

Unless you seek modification of your existing child support order and the court approves a change, you must continue to make payments as they are. Doing otherwise can land you in a heap of legal trouble on top of the financial problems you’re already facing. In times like these, many Louisiana dads seek guidance from experienced family law attorneys.

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