Child Custody & Child Support in Divorce
Child custody is often the most complicated issue concerning a dissolution of marriage. Everyone involved in the case, including the court system, wants to make sure that the best interests of the children are met when deciding custody issues. Having a quality Arizona child custody attorney representing your case is crucial during this part of the negotiations.
The court system will consider many factors when establishing custody. These factors will include:
- The preferences of the children
- The preferences of the parents
- The ability of each parent to provide a loving and stable environment
- The child’s attachment to their school, friends and current home
- The mental health of the children and parents
- The relationship the children have with each parent and their siblings
- If there is evidence of child abuse in the home
- If there was evidence of domestic violence in the household in the past
- If there are issues with drugs, alcohol or other criminal activity
- Which spouse was the main care provider prior to the divorce
In most cases, the attorneys will file a motion to the court for Joint Custody. This joint parenting plan provides detailed instructions on visitation rights and where the children will live. The court has the ability to approve or disapprove of the plan.
The court also has the right to require joint custody for the children, even if one side of the divorce is requesting sole custody. The court believes that it is always in the best interest of the children to have a relationship with both of their parents.
When Problems Arise
It is not unusual for issues to arise during the child custody phase of the divorce. Contested issues may force either side to seek help from the court system to determine the custody case. However, all other issues must be completed and agreed upon by both parties and approved by the court before child custody issues will be addressed.
The court will most likely require that a Dispute Assessment or a Custody Evaluation be conducted so that the best interests of the children are met. This assessment will include a mental health evaluation by an expert of the children and each of the parents. The evaluation will then be reviewed, and recommendations will be made to the court.
Child support is a legal obligation of a parent to contribute to the support of their child. Child support money is used for the care, housing, feeding, clothing, and education of the children. Child support may also include covering health insurance costs or non-covered medical expenses.
To determine child support, the court will look at the following information:
- The standard of living that the children were accustomed to prior to the divorce
- The medical and educational needs of the child, including extracurricular activities
- The financial resources of both parents and their debts
- The financial resources of the children
- The amount of time the children spend with each parent if Joint Custody is awarded and any related expenses to this arrangement
The main factor in determining child support will be the income of the parent. Earned wages, overtime, benefits, stock options, royalties, money from investments, and commission payments will all be considered. Disability and Social Security income will also be considered when determining child support levels.
If a parent is not working at the time that the child support is being determined, the court will assume that the parent is capable of working hours per week at a minimum wage position. They will base the support amount ff of that information. The only exception to this rule is if the parent is under the age of 18 or can prove otherwise why they cannot hold a full-time job.
If the parent who is required to pay child support is self-employed, additional Discovery may be necessary. It will be very important to determine the actual income for someone who is self-employed. The attorneys at the Cantor Law Group will carefully examine all of the information concerning self-employment to determine the true income of the individual.
All child support orders must include which parent is responsible for covering medical insurance and bills. This may be assigned to both parents or just one.
It is also very important to understand that child support levels are only based off of what the parent is earning. Even if that parent remarries someone at a future date who has a considerably larger income, child support will not be based on the income of the new spouse. The same applies to the parent receiving child support. If that parent remarries, the obligation of the former spouse still remains in place until the child comes of age.
Child support can also be modified in the future. Life changes over time, as do circumstances. If you need to have your child support modified for any reason, you should speak with an Arizona child support attorney.
Speak with Cantor Law Group for child custody help in Arizona.