In most states, child support hearings are initially held before a magistrate, administrative law judge or other court officer rather than an actual judge. This keeps the process much less formal. If a parent is unhappy with the results of the initial hearing, he may request a hearing in front of a judge. It is not uncommon for both parties to be without attorneys at the initial hearing, although at a hearing in front of a judge, there are oftentimes attorneys representing one or both parties. The questions will likely be the same or very similar whether you are the custodial or noncustodial parent.
Establishing your work history will be very important during a child support hearing. The opposing attorney will ask you about your educational background and any special degrees or certifications you hold. You will also be asked about your current job as well as your employment from the past few years. If you are unemployed, the attorney will ask you to explain why. You will also be asked what steps you have taken to find employment and what jobs you have applied for in recent months. If you are underemployed, you will also be questioned about this. Determining your work history is important because it lets the judge know what you are capable of earning.
Proof of Income
The opposing attorney will question you about your income from all sources, including your full-time or part-time employment, and unemployment and disability compensation. You will be asked about your receipt of public assistance or Social Security. You will also be asked about income you may receive from a pension or from your assets, such as dividends on stocks. It is a good idea to bring paperwork with you to prove your income. This paperwork would include your pay stubs, IRS W-2 forms and your latest tax returns.
In addition to using your income to determine how much child support you will pay or receive, the court will consider some other facts as well. For example, if your children are in day care or camps while the parents are at work, this can affect your child support. The opposing attorney would ask you about the costs for child care and may ask for proof. If you cover your children under your health insurance, the attorney would ask you about the premiums you pay since this also affects child support. Also, if you pay mandatory retirement contributions or union dues, many states use these figures in determining child support.
Children from Other Relationships
Whether you are the custodial or noncustodial parent, it is important for the court to know if you have children from other relationships as this can affect child support. The opposing attorney will ask you if you have any other children and how often they stay with you. You will be asked to give your children's ages and whether or not they have any special needs. Also, if you are remarried, your new spouse's income can sometimes be considered in determining child support, so be prepared to answer questions about that as well.