Recently I’ve had cases where the parties started out with the Attorney General to establish child support. In many cases this is probably sufficient and it is definitely cost efficient, however, there are cases where just signing the standard Attorney General order is not advisable. For example, if the parties want a non-standard visitation schedule then the Attorney General orders are not sufficient. Sometimes these Orders do not take into account all factors that a Court may consider such as additional children you support though you are not legally obligated to do so. Sometimes when the Attorney General is assisting a party in modifying the amount of child support all factors are not considered such as whether one parent is entitled to child support. Below are some more detailed explanations of these scenarios.
When you have a non-standard visitation schedule!
The Attorney General Orders are prepared with the Standard Possession Order. Even if they customize it some often times the customized language is not enforceable because it is not specific enough to address the appropriate visitation schedule. For example, if you want to alternate possession every other week, the Attorney General Orders are not designed to say that and instead say the Standard Possession Order. The Attorney General may tell you that you can do whatever you agree to but if you do not agree then you fall back to the Order language which means that if at any time the parties are not in agreement then someone gets the Standard Possession Order instead of alternating weeks.
Child Support Calculations
Sometimes the Courts will consider all children you support even if you do not have a legal obligation to support the children. For example, if you are married to someone who has a child and you help provide support. In certain circumstances a Judge may consider the support of that child even though that child is not your biological child and there are no orders ordering you to pay child support. When you are dealing with the Attorney General, however, they will not take that into consideration and only consider the children you are legally obligated to support.
When the Attorney General modifies a child support order it is generally in favor of the mother. When the underlying Order does not actually specify who is to receive child support, because there was no child support ordered previously, the Attorney General will lean in favor of the mother receiving support. When a private attorney gets involved then a good review of the prior order comes into play because it would change the rights and duties of the prior Order. Depending on the circumstances it may be necessary to calculate what each parent would pay in child support and then the parent that would pay more in support would just pay the difference between the two numbers. Again, it depends on the circumstances of each case as to how to properly calculate the child support.
While Attorney General Orders are generally acceptable in most cases, it is always a good idea to at least consult with an attorney to advise you in your case with your specific facts.