Child Custody and Child Support, what are they and how are they determined?
One of the biggest decisions and possible stresses involved in divorce cases is what will happen with the children. Everyone wants what is best for the children, but also what is most convenient for them. Knowing your options and having a divorce lawyer you trust, can help create the best situation for everyone involved. Contact Jeddeloh & Snyder PA today for a consultation to determine your options and how we can help you through this stressful time of compromise.
What is Child Custody?
Child custody can be split into two different types: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody determines what parent(s) get to make the major decisions for the child’s life, such as education, religion, and healthcare. Physical custody determines where the child lives and spends their time. Most often, parents share joint legal custody and are partners in determining the major decisions for the child. As for physical custody, in order for it to be a joint partnership, the child needs to live at each house 40% of the time, or 146 days a year. If one parent is granted primary custody, the child lives at their house 60% of the time, and the other parent has ‘parenting time’ or ‘visitation’ hours. Lastly, if a parent is granted sole custody, the child spends 100% of their time at one house, that parent makes all the major decisions for the child, and the other parent has very limited, often supervised time with the child. The decisions made right after a divorce can often change over time, depending on many factors such as the cooperation of the parents or the needs of the child. Having an attorney in place to help you through these processes can help ensure the best possible outcome for you and your child.
How is Child Custody determined?
Child custody can be determined in several different ways, depending on the cooperation of the parents and the decisions that need to be made. If there is no need for a court order, each parent automatically gets joint legal custody of the child and can be a part of the decision making. If the parents can not agree on the decisions, there are negotiations and agreements that need to be made with the help of lawyers. If these decisions still can not be made outside of the courtroom and in mediated negotiations, it is brought to court and the judge will decide based on the child’s best interest. Having a lawyer representing you during any stage of this process can help you build the relationship and help them really understand your needs and wants. Even in the cases that are agreed upon right away, having a lawyer can help make sure you sign all the paperwork correctly and everything is filed in the correct way, taking that worry away from you.
What is Child Support?
Child support is when the court orders specific payments to be made, typically by the noncustodial parent, to support the minor child or children shared with the other parent. They help to balance the financial responsibilities involved in raising the children. Divorce should not effect the child’s life as much as possible, and child support can ensure the transition goes as smooth as possible.
How is Child Support determined?
In order to determine whether child support is needed and how much should be paid, the judge looks at many different factors. The first factor that is typically looked at is the income of both parents. Another factor is the type of custody that is agreed upon. For example, if the parents have equal incomes and it is a joint physical custody agreement, there probably will be no need for child support. If there is shared physical custody, but one parent makes significantly more income than the other, there will most likely be some sort of payments made in order to ensure the child’s lifestyle does not change from one house to the next. Legal custody usually has little effect on amount of child support, because it is only determining the decision making of the parents. Physical custody has the most impact, because it involves handling the day-to-day expenses of the child and child support can have a large impact in helping that.
Parents need to coordinate the major expenses, such as school, insurance, summer camps, and medical. One option to look into during this process is creating a “children’s checkbook” account to share with each other. This way, money is going into the account specifically for use of the child and each parent has access for when they need to pay for different expenses of the child. These terms can be determined together and with the help of lawyers outside of court. Having a plan in place will make the divorce transition easiest for you and your children.
What’s the next step?
The best interest of the child is always the option everyone involved in divorce cases wants. There are many processes involved and many possible options to consider when it comes to decision making, where the children will spend their time, and how to transition from the life they live now to the one they will after the divorce. The experienced divorce attorneys at Jeddeloh & Snyder PA are here to take care of the hard stuff so you can keep your focus on the most important part: your children. Contact us today for an initial consultation so our attorneys can start to help you through this stressful time.