Am I disadvantaged in a child support case, if the other parent has a lawyer and I don’t?

What happens in child support cases when the custodial parent has an attorney but the non-custodial parent doesn’t? Does that mean they usually pay more because there isn’t another attorney to negotiate with?

Yes, that is usually what happens, and for the very reasons you suspect.

And I’m a lawyer, so I know.

There are other reasons that working without a lawyer can cause you unnecessary detriment (and they aren’t pretty); many judges and court officers (many, though not all) treat people who represent themselves in court with disdain merely because these self-represented people don’t have a lawyer, regardless of how well the self-represented people prepare and argue their case. Most lawyers and judges (not all, but most) look down their noses at self-represented parties (and even then many of them keep their contempt for self-represented parties below the surface and in plausible deniability form). What this means is that a self-represented party could go in to court and make the same argument a lawyer would make, but the self-represented party loses and the lawyer wins. It’s wrong, but it’s reality.

Try this, if you feel you cannot afford an attorney or if you do not want to hire an attorney on a full-time basis: while negotiating child support notify you ex that you will not sign any settlement agreement on the subject without first reviewing the proposed agreement with an attorney to ensure that you are not agreeing to something illegal or clearly unreasonable and unfair.

By the way: you should hire a good lawyer (a good lawyer, not just any lawyer, but a fair-minded, intelligent, experienced, creative, industrious one) to represent you, even if you think you don’t need one or don’t want one. You do need a lawyer in contested child support cases. When you find the right lawyer, he/she more than justifies his/her fees.

And not every lawyer charges a retainer and bills by the hour. You can, if you are willing to make the sacrifices, find a lawyer you can afford and who provides you with real value. Don’t shop price. Shop value.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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