Resolving child custody is one of the most critical aspects of any divorce. After all, it is essential for both parents to have the option to fill an active role in their child’s life unless one of them is unfit due to substance abuse, neglect or other similar serious issues. It is important to note that each state creates its own custody and child support guidelines, so it will be important to familiarize yourself with each applicable law in order to have the best chance of getting the level of custody that you are looking for. Additionally, an experienced child support lawyer can help you navigate throughout the legal process and increase your odds of getting favorable results.
How is Child Custody Determined?
As previously mentioned, the state you live in will have a major impact on your child custody case. For example, in one state, the court will determine how custody will be awarded based on the best interests of the child. In most cases, one parent is given physical custody of the child, and the other parent has generous visitation rights. This is often referred to as shared joint custody, but some courts have named it time-sharing. Unless you have extenuating circumstances, the odds are high that your custody case will result in a time-sharing agreement. In fact, sole custody arrangements are rare, even if one parent makes the decision not to visit with their child.
What Factors Impact the Court’s Decision?
In some states a family court will consider multiple factors in order to decide what is truly in the child’s best interests. For example, each parent’s willingness to work with the other parent in able to maintain a meaningful relationship with their child will play a major role in figuring out who will have physical custody. It is also essential for each parent to be able to demonstrate that they have the financial, physical, emotional and mental capacity to properly care for the child while they are in their custody.
Other factors include the stability of each parent’s home environment, their ability to become involved in extracurricular and school related activities and the child’s wishes when they are 12 or older. Additionally, any history of abuse, neglect, violence or child abandonment could cause one parent to lose custody rights altogether.
How Does Child Support Work?
In the vast majority of child support cases, the custodial parent will receive financial assistance from the other parent to assist them with providing their child with all of their basic needs. It is possible for a couple to decide not to file for a child support order if they come to a personal agreement, but this is typically not a wise idea. Therefore, the custodial parent should ensure that they take the proper legal steps to receive child support from the other parent. In some states, the amount of money that the responsible party must pay on a monthly basis is based on their income, but it is important to note that they cannot be denied the right to visit with their child even if they get behind on their support payments.
Many people falsely assume they can avoid paying child support if they visit with their children on a regular basis. However, the family court system in most states gives little to no credit for visitation, and the only potential exception is when a lot of overnight visits are involved. To determine if this will have any bearing on your case, you will need to discuss the situation with an experienced child support attorney from your local area.