Divorce and Children
If there are any children in the marriage the courts will have to determine what type of custody they should award. The courts primary concern is for the well being of all children under the age of 18. In most states there are generally four different types of custody arrangements which can be awarded.
Joint Physical Custody
In a joint physical custody agreement the parents will share physical custody of the children. This means that each parent will have the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with the child or children.
Sole Physical Custody
Under sole physical custody the children will live exclusively with one parent and the visitation rights of the other parent will be determined by the court.
Joint Legal Custody allows both parents to make decisions regarding the child. This arrangement requires an incredible amount of collaboration from both parents to determine the well-being for their children. This is a relatively new but increasingly common arrangement. In the past the mother was given preferential consideration but in recent years this has changed.
Sole Legal Custody is currently the most common arrangement. This arrangement usually means one parent has the responsibility to make the decisions concerning the well-being of the child and the non-custodial parent has visitation rights.
In deciding the custody issues for a divorce case (if they are contested), the courts will analyze a variety of factors. The can include: the employment status of the parents, the extra time each parent has to spend with the child, childcare options, residency, financial viability of each party, mental and emotional stability of each parent, and in some cases the wishes of the children will be considered as well.
In most states the parents have the opportunity to determine the visitation rights for other individuals involved in the children's lives. Often the individuals such as grandparents will have visitation rights when the related parent has physical custody of the child.
Many states now have a standardized guideline to determine the amount of child support. Judges do have authority to deviate from the standard amount. This standard is published in the state code and is based on the gross income of the parents and the amount of time they will be keeping the child. In addition, factors such as child care cost, healthcare costs, travel costs and other special needs may be included and added to the child support amount required. Certain circumstances can necessitate changing the agreed upon child support payments.
Child Support not paid
If child support is not paid on time there are now certain actions that can be taken. New court actions include deducting payments from wages or taxes, blocking a driver's license or filing a charge for contempt of court. If you have not received the child support payments you are entitled to contact a divorce attorney to help you.
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Unfortunately, even if a minor makes a life-altering decision such as an unwanted pregnancy their obligations towards their unplanned children are not negated simply because they do not want to be responsible.
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