Being Sued for child support, should we hire a lawyer?


#1

My fiancee and his wife divorced in Virginia in 2006. Support was agreed at $500/mo for their one child, per their divorce decree. Since then, he has moved here to NC and she has moved to GA. He is making a lot less money here than he did in VA & the 3 yr period was up last year. He hired an attorney to try and have everything moved out of VA & to have the amount modified, but we waited around for several months & nothing happened. The attorney gave our money back and said we would just have to wait for her to do it. My fiancee has done the best he can to keep up the support payments, but some months are impossible, so he is behind. She is now sueing for support and says it is $5000 behind. I’m not sure if that is accurate or not. There were months that he payed a lower amount and 2 or 3 months that no payment was made because there wasn’t enough money. I’m very afraid that they will garnish his wages for this amount plus more for arrears. We’re not married, I have two children & we live together. I know this does not affect the obligation he has to his own son, but this does have an impact on my own children. We’re currently behind on our mortgage & are trying to get that modified. He has not seen his own son in over a year because we can’t afford the trips to visit him. If he calls, she gets on the phone and demands money, so he doesn’t even get to talk to his son very often. There is no visitation schedule, but I want to know how do we get a visitation agreement in order that states she has to meet him half way and get the child support amount modified? Can we get the arrears reduced?? Would hiring a lawyer be beneficial to us? We would have to borrow money to pay the lawyer, so I don’t want to do this if it isn’t going to help.
She is suing as a pauper.
Thank you.


#2

A little more information: A court date has not been set yet & we have 20 days to contest. Since she is in Georgia & we’re in North Carolina, do we contact the Georgia or NC clerk of court to file? The paperwork we received came from Mecklenberg, so I would assume we need to contact the Mecklenberg courts to contest? I’m not really understanding how this works with 3 states involved (the divorce/custody/support was originally filed in VA in 2006), but it looks like she has had the case moved to NC. I would’ve thought everything would happen in GA since that’s where the child resides.

Right now, she has sole custody and visitation is at the discretion of the parents, but because we’re so broke all the time, we can’t afford the trips to visit and have not seen the child in over a year. What I want to do is have a scheduled visitation order & lower the child support amount so that we are financially able to visit the child, which is to his benefit to have an active relationship with his father. Since the Notice of Registration Of Foreign Support Order was filed in Meck county, does that mean we would not have to travel to Georgia to contest? Would the x need to travel here to attend court?

The Petition to Sue as a Pauper says the State of NC is sueing on her behalf. So, would all proceedings happen in NC?? I always thought these things were handled by the county the child lives in & we would have to go there for court. Although, I’m not complaining if we don’t have to travel to GA for court.


#3

If the lawsuit was filed in Mecklenburg County that is where the action is pending and you will file your Answer there. Since neither party nor the child lives in VA, NC will take jurisdiction of the case as that is where the child support obligor (your fiancé) lives. All hearings will in Mecklenburg County, and the Georgia court will not be involved.

I would suggest you hire an attorney and file an Answer to her filing, and make a counterclaim for a modification of child support and child custody.


#4

Thank you so much for your response. Does this mean she will not have to travel here for court or will the state appoint a representative for her so she will not have to be there?

Do you have any advice on selecting an attorney for this case? So, should my fiancee go to the courts himself and file (since there is a time limit) or should we immediately seek out an attorney and let him/her handle that?

If we get the child support amount modified, how will they handle the back support? Will they date back to the date the case was eligible for modification and reduce the arrears to match what the new support amount will be or will there be no effect on that?


#5

The Plaintiff should appear at all scheduled hearings.

I would suggest you hire an attorney in the immediate future to allow them time to get the responsive pleadings drafted and filed. I would suggest using someone who primarily practices family law to handle this case.

Modification can be made retroactive to the date of filing your motion.