Often clients wonder what documents are most important for a consultation. For a criminal charge, the answer is simple, the summons given to you by police evidencing the charges. But, what should you bring to a child custody and support consultation? This blog lays out the most helpful documents to bring to a child custody and support consultation.
1. Current Order for Custody & Visitation
More than an outline of who gets the child/children on specific days, the current custody and visitation order will often lay out specifics as to who is obligated for health insurance, day care, and the percentage obligations for non-covered medical expenses. Also important is the date in which the previous custody and visitation order was entered. Many courts require at least a six month interval between filing motion(s) to amend custody and visitation; further, a material change is circumstances is required to amend the previous order. The order is also important as it allows an attorney to determine which support guideline should be used in calculating child support. If a party has visitation for at least ninety (90) days out of the year, a shared custody, rather than standard support, guidelines will be used.
2. W-2s, Paycheck Stub, Health Insurance Documentation
Financial documentation is important for a consultation regarding custody and support. A current paycheck stub will allow an attorney to calculate your monthly gross income, while W-2s will show whether that income has changed since the previous year. Health insurance documentation is important if you are obligated to pay the health insurance for the child. Important to remember is deductions for health insurance only count toward the portion of health insurance for the child/children, not the entire payment of health insurance. When combined with the current custody and visitation order, and a rough estimate of the opposing parties income, an attorney can quickly calculate what a likely support amount would be and give better advice during a consultation.
3. Evidence of a Material Change in Circumstances
As stated above, a material change in circumstances is required in order to amend a current order for custody and support. There are a variety of factual circumstances that constitute a material change in circumstances; however, those facts must be proven in court and documentation is always useful in evaluating and offering advice during a consultation. If you allege a parent is using drugs, having persons of the opposing sex over night while the child is present, that a party has moved and not given adequate notice, or most commonly – denying visitation, it is important to have documentation. Cases do not go far when they are a he said versus a she said scenario. However, if you can produce tangible documentation to include, but not limited to: facebook posts, text messages, arrest records, a lease on a new apartment, paycheck stubs that show a change in income, anything that evidences the material change in circumstances, it will often provide an attorney a clear picture of what evidence will be presented at trial and allow that attorney to give you sound advice at the first consultation.
If you have an on-going child custody and support matter, or you are seeking to amend your current custody or support arrangements, make sure to bring the above documentation to your first consultation and allow the attorney to provide you the best consultation possible. If you are seeking an attorney, consider contacting Brandon C. Waltrip, Esq., or one of the other attorneys at Collins | Waltrip, PC, who specialize in Child Custody & Support matters.