Legal Decision Making (“Custody”)
Parenting Time/Child Support
Legal Decision Making (“custody”), parenting time, and support are often thorny issues in divorce cases. While some parents are able to work out an agreement between themselves, many require the assistance of an attorney and, in some cases, a mediator. Other times, the court is forced to intervene, in which case custody is determined according to the child’s best interests. Once parenting time has been decided, the court may order the non-custodial parent to pay child support to the parent with custody. Legal decision making is a separate issue from parenting time.
If you have a legal decision making, parenting time or support issue, we can help. Please contact the Law Office of Jeff Zurbriggen today for a complimentary consultation with a skilled and respected family law attorney who can evaluate your case and help you maximize your legal interests.
Types of Child Custody
- Physical vs. Legal – Usually, one parent is awarded physical custody, which means that the child lives with that parent the majority of the time. Regardless of who has physical custody, both parents typically share legal custody, which enables them to make decisions regarding education, healthcare, and other important issues.
- Joint – A custody arrangement where the child spends approximately the same amount of time with each parent.
- Split – This custody arrangement is rare and occurs when parents with multiple children separate them, with each parent taking one or more of the siblings. Courts do not look favorably on this type of arrangement.
Numerous factors affect child custody cases, including the amount of care provided to the child, the effectiveness of such care, the location of the parents to the child, the child’s current level of functioning, and ultimately, the child’s best interests.
It is important to note that the gender of the care provider is irrelevant in custody determinations. Further, although married parents have equal status as far as their rights to a child, a father who has not yet established paternity has the ability to assert the same rights as a mother, but must establish paternity either before or after the birth of the child prior to having equal standing to assert custodial rights.
There are many factors which affect parenting time. Some are practical such as parental employment, age of the child, proximity of parents and child, and schooling. Some may be legally detrimental, such as domestic violence, substance abuse, drug use, parental access interference, and parental alienation. Most involve the well being and best interests of the child, each parent, school, extended family, functioning in society and at school, and the like.
There are many published suggested plans. In the end, however, Courts try to customize a plan to best suit the child, and the parental interests as well. Co-parenting or parallel parenting are terms used for parents who parent a child, where all of whom do not live together.
Each state has child support guidelines that establish how much child support the non-custodial parent must pay based on income, number of children, and other relevant factors. However, courts are not held strictly to these guidelines and may increase or reduce the amount of child support as they deem appropriate.
Child support and wage garnishments must be stopped via a court order. They do not always stop automatically or when the child turns eighteen. Further, if a paying parent waits to stop child support, the support will not be retroactively terminated upon the date you might otherwise think it should. Courts will generally only go back to the date of the filing of the petition to terminate the child support. As a recipient of child support, statutes of limitations limit how long you may pursue child support. Actively pursuing child support is necessary, and courts provide such remedies as contempt, interest, judgments, garnishments, and even jail to enforce child support orders.
At the Law Office of Jeff Zurbriggen, we have helped countless clients successfully resolve their child custody/support disputes. For high quality legal representation for your child custody/support issue, please contact us today for a FREE consultation. We will advise you as to your best course of action and work vigorously to ensure that your case has a favorable outcome.