Whether you are seeking an award of child support or you dispute payment, our firm can assist you in understanding your rights and obligations. We provide comprehensive child support representation to clients who have support issues within the context of a divorce or between parents who have never been married. You should seek legal representation to ensure that you receive or pay what is appropriate based on your specific situation.What is Child Support?
Louisiana’s laws about child support are an extension of a basic principle in family law – the interests of children come first. The law does its best to protect children from the financial effects of their parents’ divorce or separation. The same rule applies even where parents are not married to each other.
Louisiana courts use “Guidelines” established by law to arrive at the amount of child support you will receive or must pay. The “basic child support obligation” is calculated in almost all cases by using tables that consider the number of children, the amount of time the children spend with each parent, and the monthly gross income of each party. Additional costs that the parties pay for Childcare, Health Insurance Premiums, and Extraordinary Medical Expenses are then added to the basic support obligation. In some cases, other “Extraordinary Expenses” -- expenses such as education expenses, transportation expenses and expenses intended to enhance the health, athletic, social, or cultural development of a child -- can also be added if the court finds these expenses reasonable and necessary considering the income of the parties. Deviations from these guidelines only occur in extraordinary cases.
Since income is the most important factor in determining child support, you should try to gather this information before consulting with your attorney. Make copies of the last 3 tax returns that both parents have filed. Bring that information up to date by making copies of each parent’s recent paycheck stubs. Gather cancelled checks or receipts to show how much you pay for your children’s health insurance, childcare, and extraordinary medical expenses. With this information, a competent family lawyer should be able to tell you, at your first meeting with him or her, the approximate amount that you will be able to receive or that you will be required to pay for child support.
Many clients are concerned that either or both parents are currently unemployed. This does not mean that you will not receive, or that you will not pay child support. Courts in Louisiana have the authority to “impute” income to the parties. If a parent has an established history of earning $30,000 a year and is currently unemployed, the court will find that the parent is capable of earning that amount, and that amount will be used to calculate the support obligation. It’s up to that parent to find employment. In Louisiana, the welfare of children is paramount.
Louisiana does not discriminate against children who are born out of wedlock. The law on child support is the same whether parents are married or not.
At the Cosenza Law Firm we are concerned about the economic welfare of our clients and the best interests of their children. Know what your options are before you decide to take the next step. Contact us for a consultation.