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  • Writer's pictureJohn Zenir

Child support, custody & visitation

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

When separation or divorce is imminent, children are left in the crossfire. many situations ahead to negotiate and solve. here we compile a few questions than can help you through this path.

Your children are a pilar for your life, you can't imagine mornings without them. Now, you have to share time and activities separately, routine most change and uncertainty is taking over you. So many questions arising. We prepared this guide with some examples to help you with the first steps.

“Co-parenting. It's not a competition between two homes. It's a collaboration of parents doing what is best for the kids.” -Heather Hetchler

what is child support?

It is what the government says it is pursuant to an act called the Child Support Standards Act, otherwise called CSSA and child support is generally thought of to be used for food, shelter and clothing, and it is payable as a portion of a person's income.

who can apply for child support?

A biological parent of the children can apply for child support. In some cases if the child is in foster care, well then the foster care agency or the department of social

services for your local county can apply for child support as against both parents if the child is placed with them. Also, sometimes grandparents or other relatives have custody even on a temporary basis. They are permitted to apply for child support.

what are the requirements for child support?

The requirements to receive it is that you have to have custody in some way, shape or form. The things that are required for child support is that the law says you pay a percentage of your income based upon the number of kids, as I described earlier, and you also go ahead and you must pay a percentage of daycare expenses, as well as medical coverage for the children.

There are certain things like with healthcare if $100.00 is spent on healthcare, it may not be divided up. The cost of that $100.00 healthcare bill may not be divided 50/50. It will be divided on a pro-rata basis meaning that if the $100.00 figure was incurred or the bill was incurred by spouses or ex-spouse where one earned 80 percent of their combined income, the other earned 20 percent of their combined income, then what would happen is the person making 80 percent of the combined income of the two parents, they would be required to pay 80 percent of the cost of that medical care, and the other side 20 percent, because they made 20 percent of the combined income.

can child support be taxed?

There is no tax on child support the person who receives it.

can child support be changed?

Yes, it can be changed by modifying it because of the fact that someone's income has gone up or down 15 percent then you can go ahead and try to modify it, because your income has changed by 15 percent over a 2-year period. And that's either up or down.

It can also be changed if the person who was paying, for example, suddenly becomes unemployed and cannot pay for it, well then it would be reduced and the percentage that the custodial spouse were to receive would then be applied to the unemployment insurance the person was receiving. So if they were getting $800.00 a week on unemployment insurance, well then they would have to pay for the kids. If there were two kids, 25 percent of that $840.00.

what is child custody and visitation?

Child custody means who has control of the children in terms of making decisions for the kids on a regular and ongoing basis, and that's the person who has custody. Could be sole custody. It could also be other kinds of custody besides sole custody. But custody means who is in charge of making the important decisions for a child.

Frequently, the parties agree that they will share joint custody, and they will make the major decisions regarding the children's lives based upon their joint or combined decision.

Visitation means when I should say is the noncustodial parent going to visit with the parent.

how is it determinate?

Well it's determined by applying a very, very sophisticated formula called the best interest test. And the best interest test includes every possible factor that a court could consider in making a decision about who should have custody. There are numerous and enumerable factors that the court can consider, but if we wanted to shape it into just a brief sentence, what we might say is who has been and, therefore, should continue to be the psychological parent for this child; and secondly, will this parent be able to help the child to develop a good quality relationship with the other parent who does not have custody. And just about all of the factors can be fit into that one sentence but it's much too long to enumerate here.

Everything from standard of living to ability to earn a living and keep the kids safe, what kind of home environment, how is the school that the child might go to, etc.

can custody be modified?

Yes. Custody can be modified, because there has been a substantial change of circumstances since the entry of the last order. For example, let's suppose a woman did not receive custody because she was sick and unable to care for the child. Well, once she got better and was back in good health and was now able to care for the child, the court would consider that to be a change of circumstances and they would listen to argument about changing the custody arrangement.

How to apply for custody?

You have to complete a petition in family court requesting custody or you would go to Supreme Court as part of a divorce case to try to get custody there.

can parents apply for sole custody?

Yes, but they will only be successful if certain criteria have been met. For example, the law says that a grandparent must have, in fact, been involved with the child for a length of time and also have been the primary caretaker for the child for a period of one year during which the parent was available to take care of the child but chose not to.

Very rare that grandparents apply for custody, but it does happen sometimes that, in fact, the parents allow the grandparents to care for the child for a lengthy period of time like that one year I mentioned, and then the grandparents decide to go for custody, and it does get granted from time to time.

high-conflict custody cases

High-conflict custody cases are extremely difficult, probably the most difficult area of the law for the litigants. It is a wise idea to hire a parenting coordinator, who will help the parties learn how to communicate with one another as time goes on.

High-conflict custody cases require the utilization of a forensic evaluator; and also, the children must be represented by an attorney who is called an attorney for the children, who will represent what the children want if they are of a certain age. But if they are unable to express their preference because of their age, which is under the age of 7, then the attorney for the child will, in fact, substitute their judgment and go ahead and make a determination as to what they believe is in the child's best interest.

The high-conflict cases should usually have in addition each parent would probably want to have a person whom they speak with, who is a mental health professional, to assist them in getting through the difficulty of going through a child custody case.

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