Q: How do I prepare for a hearing over mutually agreed upon child support and custody in official divorce decree?
My ex spouse filed for child support before we divorced (I have made every payment) and during our divorce we renegotiated our payments VIA our LAWYERS. I filed the official divorce decree that was signed by a JUDGE with the juvenile court in Chesapeake, VA which I was told to do by my lawyers so the support payments would take effect but 5 months later (from filing) I received a summons for a court date with the same court I filed the paperwork in. I was told by my original lawyer that our divorce decree signed by a judge trumps the original child support order but now I am questioning if this is the case. Looking for a reason as to why I have a hearing at all, what questions may be asked, what I need to do to prepare ahead of time. Please understand that Getting a new lawyer is not an option. Looking for advice not ridicule
A: Parents cannot effectively bargain away their children's rights to child support. While a court will consider a written agreement between the parties, it is not binding on the court, and the court can order whatever amount is deemed appropriate after calculating the presumptively correct amount according to the guidelines, with any deviations accepted according to the statutory factors. It is usually foolish for a parent to negotiate for a lower child support figure in return for some other concession, as the lower figure is not binding and the concession probably is. A wiser approach is usually to simply agree to pay the presumptively correct guidelines figure.
Any parent address a child support situation should consult with an experienced Virginia family law lawyer to discuss his or her options and the best course of action.
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