Whilst the initial focus of divorce agreements may be on splitting assets, bank accounts and property, the next move is usually towards child support and child care. Who pays for what? While it may cause some arguments, knowing your legal responsibilities can put a stop to any disputes once and for all.
You may have an opinion of what you think should happen but the divorce laws in your state may say different. If possible try to sit down as a couple to go over how you both would like this to turn out and outline any concerns and responsibilities: Who should be responsible for what and what financial support you both are going to put into the upbringing of your children?
If it’s not possible to come to an agreement you may need to seek mediation and/or legal counsel to sort out any differences you may have. So what issues need to be looked at when it comes to the child care and child support?
This is often a difficult part of divorce, whereby the legal and physical custody can either be given to one parent or both. If both parents are going to living further apart physical custody is often given to one parent for reasons of convenience.
The court will look at all angles of your situation before coming up with a decision as to whether, physical or legal custody will be given solely, jointly or what combination it should made up. It’s very rare for the court to give sole custody to one parent unless they feel they have reason to, such as in situations where the child’s health or welfare may be in danger due to abuse by a parent, or a parent behaving irresponsibly.
If spouses cannot come to an agreement on their own during the divorce, the court will step in to give the decision they feel is best for the child.
A word of warning — in cases where parents can’t agree, a family commissioner can be appointed with legal custody to the child. It is the commissioner who then has the power to make decisions regarding the child. When it comes to older children and adolescents, the court make ask them where they would like to live and with which parent.
Finance and Child Support
Different states and have different formulas for working this figure out but it usually depends on the income coming into the home, the standard of living plus the needs of the child. Other agreements parents can come to on their own is the topic of other payments that fall outside these categories for example “gifts” and treats.
Child support is one that usually causes lots of friction between spouses and one thing that courts frown greatly upon is non-payment of child support. Recognition and financial support must be given to the carer of the child.
Any parent trying to get out of paying child support will usually find themselves having wages cut, tax returns taken or spending a period of time in jail. The last thing the state wants is to have to do is take care of a child financially when a parent should be meeting their responsibility and looking after their children.
Finance and Alimony
Alimony is different to child support. The amount of alimony (sometimes referred to as maintenance or spousal support) a spouse receives depends on various factors such as debts and the ability to support themselves and their standard of living. Alimony is used by the other spouse until they’re able to get back on their feet financially. It is usually a short term obligation that varies from a few months to a few years. Depending on circumstances this may well be for the rest of the other spouse’s life due to age or disability.
While it can be a fixed amount of income, circumstances of either person may change and alimony levels can be looked at again by the courts. Usually most alimony agreements end when the spouse receiving alimony remarries.
It is often when alimony arises that one spouse feels the need to abandon their responsibilities to their family. While they may think they have the right to do this, don’t be surprised if the courts disagree. The divorce courts will step in and make you pay what they feel is fair and appropriate.
It’s best to try to sort financial arrangements as a couple before you have your court visit or file for divorce. However, sometimes a professional will be required to help sort out your differences and facilitate you and your spouse as regards what is fair.