Proof of Income Is Important
Video Transcribed: My name is Brian L. Jackson, and I am an Oklahoma Fathers Rights Attorney. I’d like to talk to you about getting ready for your temporary orders hearing. One of the steps in the process, if you’re going to, if the worst has happened and you’re headed to divorce court and you’re looking at a custody battle, or alternatively, if you have good news, you’re a new father, and you’re going to court to establish your rights in a paternity action, one of the steps involved is temporary orders.
Temporary orders are entered to basically determine, among other things, custody, visitation, and child support during the pendency of your case. And they’re important because they can also control the trajectory of the ultimate outcome because it’s an opportunity for one side or the other or both sides to establish a status quo, and I’m going to talk to you about that importance in a few minutes.
But I want to start with what should you bring with you? First and foremost, have your check stubs ready. You want proof of your income. That’s usually a paycheck stub, maybe a bank statement, income tax returns that demonstrate this is what you earn.
That can usually be pretty simple if you’re employed because it’s usually just a … You can bring just paycheck stubs are acceptable. If you’re self-employed, you’re probably talking about tax returns, and that can get a little more complicated, but you want to have that stuff ready ahead of time because that’s what the court’s going to use to do a calculation of child support.
Now, normally, child support is calculated using state guidelines that basically creates a formula that you’ll plug in your income, and you’re going to plug in her income, so another thing you probably want to have come to court is proof of her income if you’re able to get that.
And that can be acquired through discovery, which you probably want to talk to your lawyer about getting at least some discovery done before you go in for temporary orders so that you have those documents. Proof of income is important. Getting proof of her income is important because that’s going to get you a good calculation by the guidelines.
Now, if the number the guidelines spit out is high, you may want to go in and argue that there are grounds for a downward deviation. What do you need to do that? For starters, you’re probably going to want to talk about expenses and especially money you’re already spending on your child.
Bringing in receipts, bringing in proof of what you spend on this child, bringing in proof of how many overnights they’ve spent in your care are important for these types of calculations because you’re going to have to establish to the court a good reason to deviate. Now, some judges don’t like to deviate and just won’t, but if you want to make the case at all for a judge that might deviate, you really do need to have that evidence.
Now, what about custody? If you’re looking to get anything more than a standard visitation schedule, you need to really make a good argument. Some things that are good things to have in addition to your testimony, if you have other witnesses that can establish what your role in the children’s lives are, that’s somebody you want to bring to court with you, and you may need to get a subpoena for that, so you’d want to let your attorney know with enough lead time, in other words, more than the day before, that somebody needs to be brought to court.
If you’re going to, you may want to, depending on the particulars of your case, you may want to have text messages, social media posts, photographs of you with the children, call logs, any of that kind of thing that establishes your relationship with your children or any particular circumstances relevant to the issue of custody and visitation.
And because it’s a best interests standard, that can be pretty broad. I’m just trying to give you the broad brush strokes here because really, the specific types of evidence you’re going to bring really depend on the facts in your case.
Other things to have with you in court. Have proof of insurance on the children. That’s a good thing to have. Why? Because if not, if the court can’t establish the kids have medical coverage, then you may wind up with a situation where you get ordered to pay medical support, particularly if the kids are on SoonerCare. You may have to pay for medical support.
That increases the amount that you’re liable for. You want to bring evidence if you’re asking for joint custody, which is usually the goal that I like to shoot for on behalf of my clients. One, it keeps your child support liability down, but more importantly, it makes sure you have an equal role in your children’s lives.
To get joint custody, one of the things you need to prove to the court is that you and your mom can work together as a team. So if you have evidence that, again, social media, text messages, emails, anything objective you can use to demonstrate to the court that you guys are capable of working together is to your benefit.
Now, you may also, depending on, again, depending on your particulars, may also want to bring in medical records to show you’ve been attending physician visits. School records. Who’s taking them, who’s going to the parent-teacher conferences?
Maybe if depending on your case, you may want to summon the teacher to testify on your behalf. These are all things you want to have ready to go on temporary orders day. And it really needs to be prepared with enough lead time that your attorney can put a good case together.
Some other things to be prepared for when you go to court on temporary orders. Guys dress appropriately. I can’t stress this enough. You need to treat this as a business transaction. This is very important. Wear a suit. Have a tie. If you don’t own a suit, get a suit.
You can get a reasonably serviceable suit from a lot of different places, and if you shop around, you can sometimes get some pretty good deals. It’s worth the money. You’re paying your lawyer probably thousands of dollars to show up to court for you. You can drop a couple of hundred bucks on a suit in.
In the same vein, act appropriately. Control your emotions. Don’t pipe up information. Let your attorney do their job. Be prepared to deal, you may be dealing with a little bit of hostility from opposing counsel if you testify. Be honest. Be prepared to spill it. If it’s something that’s relevant and you get asked about it, even if it looks unfavorable, be prepared to spill it.
Your attorney will do his or her best to keep you from having to talk about things that aren’t relevant or that aren’t helpful and are not relevant but just be prepared. And another thing along those same lines is making sure to avoid surprises.
If there’s something going on in the background, in your history, or whatever that could potentially come up … You have an old criminal history. You have old domestic violence history. Can you pass a drug test? Do you know what I mean? I’m not trying to be offensive with this stuff.
But the important thing to understand is you need to … Part of getting prepared is making sure your lawyer knows about it. A lot of these things can be defended. I’ve got people with domestic violence history unsupervised visitation. It’s not fatal. But I need to know about it because getting blindsided with it at a hearing is never a good situation. And if you know you have that history, you need to be honest. And that’s part of getting prepared.
And guys, if you have specific questions because you’re coming up on temporary orders, you should go to Dads.Law, where fathers are not disposable, and I’d be happy to help you out. My name is Brian L. Jackson, and I’m a Tulsa Father’s Rights Attorney.