If you’ve watched the news recently, you’ve read the article about the man who the court ordered to pay child support even though the child isn’t biologically his. A quick Google search demonstrates how common of an occurrence this situation is, and how confusing the legal system can be when it comes to dad’s legal rights and obligation to pay child support, especially when they’re not allowed to see the child. Indeed, we see fathers in our Watertown and Lake Mills offices on a regular basis who are not sure of their legal standing in Wisconsin—or the implications of their decisions regarding child support, custody/placement, and visitation.
Father rights and child supports may seem like a murky subject that can be muddled through, but the ramifications of a wrong step by a father in a Wisconsin court does have serious legal implications (including jail time) and can impact child custody proceedings and a man’s financial future. Here are a few tips for any dad trying to fulfill their obligation and stay out of legal hot water when it comes to their rights as a father and child support.
Know your rights as a father.
The rights of fathers—or presumed fathers—vary from state to state, so it’s important to contact a local attorney to find out your rights regarding paternity and child support. Many attorneys offer initial consultations for your first contact, so make sure you use these tips to get the most out of your initial meeting or phone call.
Be careful when stopping child support payments.
Always consult your attorney before you stop payments, such as if you are concerned about the lack of visitation you are receiving. Most courts hold you accountable for child support even if you are not seeing the child. Failure to make child support payments can land you in legal hot water and even lead to your arrest.
Child custody and child support do not go hand in hand.
Just as a lack of visitation and paying child support are not legally connected, neither is child support and child custody. Even if you and child’s other parent have joint custody or you have sole custody, child support is still calculated and paid. When going through child custody proceedings, know these key child custody terms so you can understand what you are getting—and not getting—as you go through the child custody and child support.
The amount of child support is not set in stone.
Your child support obligation is calculated, and can be reviewed and adjusted. Requesting an adjustment to your child support can increase or decrease the amount, so be aware of this consequence. If you have any questions about child support and your rights, contact your attorney.