Although it is undisputed that parents deserve the right to counsel during a child custody hearing, the question arises as to whether parents should have the right to counsel during a child support hearing. Let's explore some more information about child support and the right to counsel during a child support hearing:
Consequences of Child Support Nonpayment
Generally, parents are not entitled to counsel during a child support hearing as the courts have determined that in order for parents to have a right to counsel, a parent's freedom must be on the line.
However, let's discuss the consequences to parents who do not pay child support. A parent held in contempt for child support nonpayment may be subject to:
- Wage garnishment
- Driver's license suspension
- Inability to obtain passport
- Tax refund interception
- Prison sentence
Child Support Attorney Questions
Because an attorney for child support contempt hearings is not a guaranteed right, if a parent decides to obtain an attorney for a child support contempt hearing, he or she should ask the attorney the following questions:
- What's the possibility of avoiding a prison term?
- How will the attorney assist with the negotiation or modification of child support?
- Will the attorney educate the parent about the basics of child support and a parent's obligation?
- Will the attorney educate the parent about the dangers of nonpayment?
- Is the attorney affordable?
- What's the attorney's experience with child support cases?
How to Find an Affordable Child Support Attorney
A parent who cannot afford an attorney who specializes in child support matters should seek an affordable attorney by:
- Asking for Referrals - Ask someone who has had a positive experience with a child support attorney for advice.
- Requesting Assistance from the State Bar Association - Your state bar association will maintain a list of attorneys specializing in child support matters.
- Conducting Internet Research - Research affordable child support attorneys in your state
Courts hold that there is no automatic right to counsel in child support hearings. However, it may still be a good idea for a parent to seek the assistance of counsel. For more information regarding child support, visit the child support guidelines of your state or you may speak with a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction.