After the stress of a divorce or separation, a child support trial is always difficult to deal with. As difficult as it can be, you need to remain composed and have a clear plan for the day of the trial to get the child support that you need to guarantee the best outcome for your child. Here are five tips that can help you be successful during a child support trial.
Be Punctual and Professional
The way that you present yourself to the judge can be just as important as your documentation and testimony for making your case. Be sure to dress appropriately for court, and do not wear open-toed shoes, or any clothes that are fraying or have holes in them. This is especially important in a child support case, where you are trying to prove that you are a responsible parent.
You will also be setting yourself at a disadvantage if you arrive late for the trial. While it is not uncommon for child support trials to start later than they are scheduled, you should still try to arrive early just in case. This will show that you are an organized parent that will be able to get your child to school and other events on time.
Bring All Necessary Documents
There is a specific set of documentation that you should bring with you to the trial. You will need to have documentation providing name, date of birth, and social security number for yourself and your children. You will also need your most recent pay stubs, W-2 and your tax return from last year. You will need a copy of each of these documents for your records, for the court, and for the opposing side.
Maintain Focus During the Trial
At your child support trial, you are there for one reason only: to get the financial support you deserve to care for your child. While the circumstances surrounding your separation and application for child support may be complex, you need to be selective about what you bring up in court so that the judge can address your concerns appropriately.
As an example, it is not recommended that you bring up questions about the child custody order or visitation arrangements during the trial. This be deviating from the purpose of the trial, and the judge would not be able to help anyway. Changes cannot be made to visitation arrangements or custody orders during the child support trial, as they require separate legal procedures.
Be Brief When Stating Your Testimony
You need to be sure to present your testimony in a brief, clear way. Long, drawn-out testimonies covering every detail of the case are not necessary. Simply state your main points, ask questions to your witnesses when necessary, and explain why you believe that you should receive child support. A good method for keeping your testimony brief and focused is to prepare a trial memo before your court date that you can bring with you to the trial.
Be Firm, but not Aggressive
Any displays of aggression or anger during your child support trial will severely harm your chances of receiving child support. The judge needs to know that you are operating on the best interests of your child, and a sudden outpouring of vitriol toward your former partner will not help you accomplish your goals. However, you should also be firm when supporting your side of the case. Be sure to point out any information presented by the other side that is not true, such as when you have evidence that your former partner is not being completely honest about their income.
Child support trials will never be easy, but internalizing the guidelines presented here can help you feel more organized and reduce your stress. Carefully read over these guidelines several times and consult an attorney like Donald B. Phelps Law Corp before you go to court so that you can have a clear plan of action for your trial.