If you’re getting divorced and have children under 18, child custody can be a controversial issue. Going through a divorce is a challenging and emotional phase. From hiring a divorce lawyer to establishing and calculating child support, numerous tasks need to be done.
It’s essential to research and know the basic court process to make an informed decision.
Steps of Child Custody and Support after Divorce
There are three significant steps that parents have to go through to decide on Child Custody and Support after Divorce.
1. Deciding the Type of Custody
Child custody should be decided in a divorce based on what is in the child’s best interests. A few states have ambiguous and general rules and leave it up to the judge’s discretion. Many jurisdictions, however, have laws that outline the different factors that a judge must consider when deciding on a custody order.
In the past, one parent was given custody, and the other was granted visitation rights. The children spent most of their time with the custodial parent, who made day-to-day decisions about them. The noncustodial parent was given specific visiting times with the children.
The modish trend is to have both parents involved in their children’s lives, which has given rise to the principle of shared or joint custody.
Many states still use the term “parenting time” to place all parents on a level playing field.
Physical custody (regarding where the child lives) and legal custody (regarding making decisions about the child’s welfare) can also be differentiated. But whatever terminology is used, the goal is to determine how much time a child spends with each parent and how parenting decisions are made.
2. Reaching a Custody Agreement
There are two different ways through which parents can reach a custody agreement:
Informally: Through a mediator.
Formally: Through court orders.
Although parents can reach a custody agreement informally through a mediator, it’s always advised that you don’t negotiate or make any arrangements without first getting legal advice, regardless of how you intend to reach a custody agreement.
This formal or informal negotiation is a written legal agreement, but the process can differ. A “settlement agreement,” “custody agreement,” or “parenting agreement” are words used to describe this written legal agreement.
This agreement is then presented to the court for final approval, after which it becomes a legally binding contract that parents and others must follow.
3. Determining and Establishing Child Support
The noncustodial parent is usually obligated to pay child support to the custodial parent if one parent is given sole physical or legal custody.
In joint physical custody, child support commitments are measured by the proportion of time the child spends with each parent and each parent’s income.
States have different requirements and regulations for deciding the range of child support provided by an individual. Some states give judges many leeways when determining child support, while others have strict rules that must be followed. Your lawyer can help you understand these stipulations.
Today, more than 23 million children in the United States live with a single parent. It is in your best interests to consult an attorney regardless of the nature of your divorce.
A circumstance involving your child’s custody should not be taken lightly, and hiring the right lawyer is not a cost that you should avoid. Family law or a divorce lawyer are professionals in the field. They can assist you in regaining control of your situation and establishing a new life with your children. However, choose an experienced lawyer with an excellent track record to fight your case.