Child Custody and Support - Dan Robin, Jr.
When two people get divorced and children are involved, the next step is deciding on who will get custody of the children. Once that is decided, the non-custodial parent is required to make child support payments to the parent that does have custody. Child support payments are meant to help provide the children with all the necessities he or she will need. It is a tricky and complicated area of law, but our lawyers are here to assist you in your time of need.
In the divorce proceeding or thereafter, either spouse may request a determination of custody, visitation, child support and property rights. Custody is often the most crucial and emotionally charged issue during or after divorce.
Because of the importance of the laws regarding child custody, all fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA). The UCCA attempts to minimize or eliminate child custody conflicts from state to state, by allowing each state to recognize and enforce custody orders made in other states. More common law is to award custody to both parents at the same time, in an arrangement known as "joint custody," under which custody of the children is divided into legal and physical custody, with both parents sharing responsibility for the children simultaneously. However, joint custody does not necessarily mean equal custody. Rather, it means custody co-exists between parents with the physical arrangements coordinated in the best interests of the children.
All but six states recognize the joint custody arrangement in child custody matters. Eight states do not consider the wishes of the children when awarding custody. In the majority of states listed as not taking into account the child's wishes, the statute also reads that the decision regarding placement of the child must be based on what is in the "best interests" of the child.
While "joint custody" is presumed to be in the best interest of the children, this legal presumption can be rebutted by either parent proving by clear and convincing evidence that sole custody is in the children's best interest. When determining the best interest of the child, the court shall consider all factors it deems relevant including, but not limited to: Relationship between parents and child; which parent has historically taken care of the child; parent's ability to provide for and give guidance; parent's ability to encourage a continuing relationship between the child and the other parent; parent's moral, mental and physical health; or child's wishes if they are of sufficient age.
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Typically, the parent not having custody (or primary physical custody in joint custody situations) will be required to contribute to the support of the minor children. The amount of child support is determined by reference to the Child Support Guidelines which order mandatory support at stated levels. A trial judge can deviate from the guidelines but must give specific oral or written reasons why the deviation is in the child's best interest. In addition, child support can include each parent's respective portions of medical insurance, medical costs not covered by insurance, private school tuition and extracurricular expenses. Child support amounts may be adjusted by the court if one party is able to show that there has been a material change in circumstances since the last setting.
Contacting our lawyers during the divorce process is a wise decision for many reasons. For example, your spouse may refuse to give you the amount you requested and you feel you deserve a larger amount, or your spouse may refuse to pay anything at all. Even if your spouse is agreeing to the child support amount you requested, it is possible you may be entitled to more. Or, perhaps you are on the other end and your spouse is requesting far too much and you feel it is unfair, and he or she is already working with lawyers and you do not want to be at a disadvantage. Whatever the case may be, the lawyers at Fickbeiner & Robin can fight for an outcome that ends in your favor.
Are you currently going through a divorce and need information regarding child custody or support? Contact our Louisiana Child Support Lawyers for a Free Case Evaluation today!