Do I Need a Lawyer at a Support Conference?

A question I often get from potential clients is whether he or she needs a lawyer to attend a support conference with them. After all, it’s just a simple calculation, right? 

Wrong. 

Support conferences may seem simple, but they are as complex, if not more complex than any other legal proceeding.  There are a myriad of reasons why it is a good idea to be represented by a lawyer at a support conference but the following are some of the most critical:

Calculation of Income

Support is calculated based on a person’s net income.  However, net income for support purposes is not the same as a person’s take home pay. 

Certain things which are deducted on a paycheck, such a voluntary retirement contributions, do not get deducted when calculating net income for support purposes.  Consequently, a person should have an attorney represent them at a support conference to ensure that their net income is correctly calculated.

Taxes

Federal income taxes get deducted from a person’s income when calculating net income for support purposes.  How a person files their taxes will have a great effect on one’s net income for support. 

Is it best to file a joint tax return, which will increase net income but result in paying less tax or is it best to file a separate tax return, which will decrease net income but result in paying more tax?  How should child income tax exemptions be divided?  These are questions that are best answered by experienced support lawyers.

Deviations

The support guidelines provide for various deviations from the guideline amount of support. For example, a mortgage deviation provides for decreased support payments if the party paying support is residing in the marital home and paying the mortgage or increased support payments if the party receiving support is residing in the marital home and paying the mortgage. 

This calculation is mathematically complex and the award of a mortgage deviation is also discretionary.  Consequently, it is best to have an experienced lawyer on your side to make arguments regarding whether a mortgage deviation should be awarded or not.

If you go to a conference without representation, you will have no way of knowing whether the amount of support determined by the conference officer is to high or to low.  Furthermore, filing an appeal after the conference will cost you even more money in legal fees and may not otherwise have been necessary if you had properly prepared legal representation before and during the support conference.

If you have a question regarding a support issue, contact one of the experienced support lawyers at Trinity Law today.  Our attorneys routinely handle support matters in York, Lancaster, and all surrounding counties.

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