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Child Custody and Support

If you have children, they will become the focus of many of your divorce proceedings. In this section, you can learn about two important things related to your children in divorce. These things are child custody and child support. Use this information to get your questions answered.

Sole Custody

If you and your spouse have children together and are filing for divorce, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is what kind of physical custody the two of you will have over your children. Custody battles can be stressful and expensive. However, if you and your spouse cannot settle custody issues outside of court, presenting your case and having a judge decide might be your only option.

If you feel that it is in your child’s best interest for one spouse to have sole custody, consider this option. There are many custody options that you can choose from. But, some divorce cases end in sole custody of the children for one spouse. Consider this option if you are going through a divorce.

Sole custody comes with a heavy burden to prove. If both parents are active in the life of the minor children, sole custody probably isn’t the best option. If you and your spouse take your custody battle to court, a judge will determine custody. This is done with the child’s best interest in mind. A judge will decide what the most stable and healthiest environment is for your child.

Finding a Healthy Environment

A court can order sole custody, primary custody to either parent, or shared physical custody of the minor children. Sole custody will be awarded to one parent if the other parent is deemed unstable or unfit to raise a child by the court. Generally, such a finding is determined by history of instability in character or an inability to provide for the child.

If one parent has problems such as alcohol abuse or has violent tendencies, they might lose custody of their child. Furthermore, if one parent endangers the life or well-being of their child, custody will be revoked. If one parent abuses their child, whether emotionally or physically, they will be considered unfit to have custody. Furthermore, if one parent abandons their child or neglects the child, sole custody might go to the other parent.

In some cases, sole custody is necessary in order to protect a child from one unstable parent. However, in recent years, fewer and fewer custody battles are ended by awarding sole custody to one parent. The court recognizes the importance of two parents in a child’s life, even if these parents are divorced. If possible, judges will award primary physical custody to one parent with visitation to another. This happens so long as both parents are fit to raise their child.

Joint Custody

There are many forms of custody that come about as the result of a divorce. However, not all custody options will be ideal for you and your spouse. You might not get everything you want in a divorce. But, custody of your children is one of the most important things to decide on. Joint legal custody will allow you and your spouse to make joint legal decisions about your children. You can make decisions regarding your children’s religion, health, education, and activities. This means that you will share the responsibility of raising your children.

Legal vs. Physical Custody

Many people confuse legal custody with physical custody. Joint legal custody does not mean the parents are sharing physical custody. This is an option that has its benefits, but it also has its consequences. Joint custody is an option that you and your spouse should consider if you are planning on getting a divorce. It is the default legal custody arrangement by Connecticut courts. However, it could have serious consequences if a parent is not involved in a child’s life. It can also end poorly if the parents cannot communicate well. Consider joint legal custody if you and your spouse are filing for divorce.

If you and your spouse get along and you recognize the importance of a child having both parents in their life, joint legal custody might be a good option. However, if one spouse in a divorce case is abusive and is unfit to have custody of their child, the court will most likely award sole legal custody to the more stable parent.

Shared Parenting

Shared physical custody is defined as a situation where the noncustodial parent exercises care and control of the child in some situations. This happens “for periods substantially in excess of a normal visitation schedule”. A common misunderstanding is that parents do not have to pay child support in shared parenting situations. Shared custody means that both parents share all parenting responsibilities, including financial responsibilities.

Each parent is therefore required to provide a portion of all the housing, food, clothing, education, medical, and social expenses of the child. This can be accomplished, for example, by setting out specifically the terms of the shared financial responsibilities in the judgment decree. Or it can happen by pegging one parent’s share of the expenses to the Child Support Guidelines. Whether the shared financial arrangement between the parties is flexible or fixed will depend on the particular circumstances of the parties. It also depends on how well they work together on parenting and financial issues.

Termination of Parental Rights

In divorce, your parental rights might be modified. Here, you can learn more about what happens if your parental rights are terminated.

Your Rights

The termination of parental rights can happen in probate court. It means that you are giving up any legal connection you have to your child. This is a very serious legal proceeding. So, it is important that you understand all of your rights prior to giving them up. It is equally important to consult with an attorney before consenting to the other parent terminating their parental rights.

Giving up one’s rights includes giving up the relationship with your child. It also includes giving up responsibilities to your child. In addition, it means giving up your rights as a parent to make decisions for your child. This usually only happens in extreme cases.

It is important to keep in mind that once terminated, your parental rights will never be restored. It is equally important to consult with an attorney if the other parent wants to give up parental rights. Once rights are terminated, since there isn’t a legal connection to the child. So, there is no remaining claim for child support.

Petition for Termination of Parental Rights

There are many people who can petition for the termination of parental rights. This includes one parent or both parents of the child, the child’s guardian, any selectman of a town that has charge of the child, an officer of the childcare agency, a relative of the child in the case that the parent(s) have abandoned the child, or the Commissioner of DCF. Keep in mind that if the child is over the age of 12, they must join in the petition. The petitioner for the termination of parental rights must prove to the probate court why the termination of rights is in the best interest of the child.

Grounds for termination vary, but generally they include abandonment by the parent or denial by the parent. Denial of a parent to provide for their child can include sexual or physical abuse, denying emotional, educational, or moral needs that the child has, or failing to explain serious injuries. Furthermore, if there is no ongoing relationship between the parent and child, the parent’s rights can be terminated.

If the parent is a convicted felon, the court also has the right to terminate parental rights. A termination of parental rights request is not guaranteed to be accepted by the court. If it can be proven that it is in a child’s best interest for termination of parental rights, the child will either lose one parent or possibly both. This would allow them to be eligible for adoption.

Visitation

Under Connecticut law, persons with significant ties to children have visitation rights. Recently, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that grandparents and others must demonstrate that they have a “parent-like” relationship with the child. They must prove that the child will suffer harm if visitation is denied. This is a heavy burden of proof. It will have a significant impact on the ability of third-parties to obtain visitation orders.

As a divorced parent, you might have primary custody of your children. If this is the case, you will have the opportunity to be very involved in your child’s life. You will be able to see them on a regular basis. You will also have the primary responsibility of taking care of your child.

On the other hand, you might be the noncustodial parent and only have visitation rights. This can make maintaining a relationship with your child and staying involved in their life difficult. If you have visitation rights, it is important to understand what type of visitation you have. This will help you plan your visits accordingly.

Unsupervised Visitation

There are three major types of visitation. The first is unsupervised visitation. This is the type of visitation that is most commonly awarded in divorce cases. If you have just received unsupervised visitation rights from a court, it means that you will be able to take your children to your new home or on special outings without the intervention of the court.

Keep in mind that just because these visitations are not supervised does not mean that they can occur at any time. You still have to stick to a regular visitation schedule. In some situations, certain restrictions can be placed on unsupervised visitations. For example, if you have a very young child who is still breastfeeding, you might be asked to conduct your visits at their primary house until the child is more self-sufficient.

Supervised Visitation

Another type of visitation is supervised visitation. If you can only conduct supervised visitations, it means that another adult has to be present during your visits with your children. In some cases, you will be able to appoint the supervisor of these visits. For example, you could choose your child’s grandparent or another family member to act as a supervisor.

In other cases, this supervision is more strict. The court will appoint a social worker or some other designee to be present during your visits. In more relaxed cases, you can still meet with your child in your own home or out on the town. Also, in other cases, the court will appoint a location for you to conduct your visitations. Supervised visitation can be awkward, but try to make your child as comfortable with the situation as possible.

Virtual Visitation

One fairly new type of visitation is virtual visitation. Virtual visitation comes in the form of communicating through email, social media, text messaging, or Skyping. This type of visitation is less common than supervised or unsupervised visitation.

What if My Child Refuses to go on Visitation?

This problem occurs when your child refuses to attend scheduled visitations. Whether you are the custodial or the noncustodial parent, this situation is upsetting. You might not know the best way to approach it. To this end, I would like to provide some tips to help in this situation.

Visitation is Mandatory

Remember that neither you nor your child can pick and choose when to attend visitation and when to skip these visits because visitation is mandated by the court. Visitation is something that your child has to do, just like going to school. Sure, there might be some days when your child complains about going to school, but you make them go anyway. Similarly, visitation is not optional.

Communicate with Your Ex

As the custodial parent, you might be worried that your child has a legitimate reason to not want to visit their other parent. You might be frustrated with your ex and your instinct might be to blame them. However, you need to refrain from doing that at this time. Likewise, if you are the noncustodial parent, you are probably hurt when you learn that your child doesn’t want to visit you. You might wonder if your ex is involved in your child’s decision.

Again, refrain from acting on these thoughts. Both parents need to communicate calmly at this time to determine why the child might not want to go and how to make them go. This will show your child that you and your ex are still a team when it comes to raising them.

Listen to Your Child

It is important for you to sit down and discuss with your child why they don’t want to attend visitation. Oftentimes, children have skewed views of reality and talking out problems and showing children the truth can help them get over their anger or resentment. If, after talking to your child, you realize that they have a legitimate gripe with their other parent, encourage them to sit down with that parent and work out the issue. Communication with both parents will help in situations like this one.

Determining Child Support

Custody battles can be extremely difficult if you and your spouse are going through a divorce. Determining what is best for you and for your child is not always an easy task. As a result, deciding what form of custody you and your ex should have, as well as issues such as visitation rights and child support can be stressful. Understanding child support is one of the most important aspects of the custody battle.

You should be sure that you are receiving enough money if child support is being given to you. Also, you should make sure that you are not asked to pay too much if you are the one giving the child support. Consider how child support is determined to better understand the process of giving and receiving child support.

Calculating Child Support

When determining who pays child support, and how much is paid, the court takes several factors into consideration. Firstly, the needs of the child are considered. How much money is required to adequately support the child will be taken into consideration. Once the court determines this, it will decide who will give how much money to the child.

How much money a child would need to retain the standard of living they had if their parents were not divorced is the root of child support. This is heavily considered when determining child support. The ability of the noncustodial parent to support their child will also be taken into consideration. The court will not ask a noncustodial parent to pay child support if they cannot support themselves first. The court will try to make sure that the noncustodial parent can afford the child support asked of them.

Income Evaluation

Once these aspects are taken into consideration, an evaluation of you and your ex’s income will be done. Child support is calculated based on both the mother and the father’s gross income. Deductibles can be made from both the mother and the father’s income.

Some examples of deductibles are the sum of income tax that is actually paid, the value of a federal dependency exemption, or other spousal or child support. Once these deductibles are applied to the gross income, the adjusted income is applied to a chart. This chart will identify the amount of support that is required to raise children in a certain income category.

If you are getting a divorce, custody rights will probably be a priority of yours. Understanding visitation rights and child support also go along with custody battles.

Who Enforces Child Support?

Child support is an important part of the divorce process because it allows your child to go on living at the means at which they lived at before the divorce. Child support allows your child to maintain a sense of normalcy in their life, even at a time when everything seems to be changing. If you violate child support stipulations set by the court by not making your payments, you will have to deal with the child support division of the court. You may even be found to be in contempt of court. Not paying child support has consequences, so if you are supposed to make child support payments, try to make them in a timely manner.

Child Support Court Division

The child support division of the court will try to get the noncustodial parent to pay their child support voluntarily. You will be in direct correspondence with the child support division if you are supposed to make child support payments, and particularly if these payments are late.

If you are not making your child support payments, the child support division might threaten you with contempt proceedings. In some cases, you could face incarceration if you refuse to pay child support. Regular compliance reviews will be filed with the child support division, and if you have a history of late payments, you will probably receive a reminder from this division when your child support payments are due.

Violating Child Support

If you are found to intentionally violate a court order for child support, the court may find you in contempt. The court has the right to incarcerate you if you knowingly refuse to pay child support. You could go to jail for a maximum of 180 days if you are found in contempt of the court.

In most cases, the threat of incarceration is enough to make people pay their child support. If the child support division feels that you are in contempt of the court, a hearing in order to show cause will be scheduled.

If there is evidence of willful nonpayment of child support, this hearing will not go well for you. The child support division will have to prove that you received notice of your child support payments, that you have the ability to pay, and that you refused to. You will have the right to show cause of why you are not in contempt of the court at this hearing.

If you are called in for such a hearing, you might want to consider contacting an attorney to represent you or to guide you in making your case to a judge. You will face serious consequences if you disregard court ordered child support.

The best thing that you can do is to pay the support in order to avoid causing problems for yourself. You do not want to risk serving jail time for failure to pay child support. If the child support division contacts you about problems with your child support payments, you should make these payments immediately. Remember, child support is based on income. If you lose your income or it greatly decreases, you should immediately file for a modification of the child support.

Does Child Support Follow You Out of State?

If you have gone through a divorce and you have children, you might have to pay child support. If you are planning on moving out of the state where you got divorced or where your child lives, you might be wondering if you will still be required to pay child support. There are some circumstances in which you won’t have to pay child support anymore. But, moving out of the state of Connecticut is not one of them.

Even if you are living in another state or another country, you will have to keep paying your child support until your child is finished with high school or until they are nineteen years old. Likewise, if the minor child move out of state, the new state will then begin assisting in enforcing the child support order.

Child support is oftentimes asked of one parent to keep the child from needing public assistance. As a result, this does not stop just because you move to another state or another country. Child support also helps families leave public assistance, so it is important that you continue to pay it.

No matter where either parent lives, both parents are required to support their children in a way that is fair. If you are concerned about child support because you are moving, you should discuss the situation with your ex, because your ex can find you in contempt if you do not pay your child support. This can lead to problems and could possibly cause you to be put in jail.

Making Sure You Pay

Due to federal law, child support enforcement agencies in different states must help one another collect child support. This is due to the fact that collecting child support from a parent who lives in a different state than their child or ex can be a more difficult process. It generally takes much more time, so these agencies help each other to collect the support and make the process go as easily as possible. The child support enforcement division will help any parent or guardian who has a child under eighteen years of age and who needs help sending child support to that child. These agencies will do their best to make sure that the child support reaches your child in a timely manner.

Furthermore, if you are a parent seeking child support from your ex who now lives in another state, you have two options to collect it. First, you can ask the court to set an order for child support if your ex hasn’t been paying since they moved. Secondly, a legal document can be sent to the state where your ex lives. This interstate petition will alert your ex to the fact that they need to continue paying the child support.

Does State Assistance Affect Child Support?

If a party is on state assistance, the state may have an interest in your case. When a party files for any type of family proceeding that may create a child support obligation, the state of Connecticut might have a say in the amount of child support a party owes.

Parties receiving child support who are on state assistance should be aware that a portion of the child support may be held by the state to balance what the receiving party is receiving in benefits. Also, if a party isn’t paying child support but the child is on state assistance, the state has the ability to enforce child support, as the petitioner in the action.

If you feel that you cannot support your child without assistance from the government, you can apply to a federal program such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This program will provide cash assistance for families who have children in need. Keep in mind that TANF or welfare benefits are not substitutes for child support. Even if you are receiving public aid, you will still be asked to pay child support if you are given a court order to do so.

Discuss your options for state assistance with your attorney. If you feel that you can’t pay your child support, and this can be proven in court, your attorney might be able to reduce the amount of money that you owe in child support. Also consider state assistance to help you afford child support. This might be your best option if you think that you will have a hard time making your child support payments.

Modifications of Child Support

The court always retains jurisdiction over issues relating to the custody and well-being of minor children. Any orders relating to child support can be modified upon a showing of a “substantial change in circumstances.” Conn. Gen. Stat. §46b-86. When reviewing child support orders, the courts use a benchmark of a 15% deviation from the guidelines to determine whether a change in circumstances qualifies as “substantial”.  

How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support For?

If you go through a divorce and you and your spouse have children, custody issues will probably be a priority. You will probably want to fight for your right to have custody of your children. If you can’t get custody, you and your lawyer will want to fight for visitation rights. One thing that you might have to deal with as a result of the divorce is paying child support. It might be difficult to understand how much you need to pay in order to support your child.

If you have any questions concerning child support, you should discuss your case with your divorce lawyer. Furthermore, you will probably want to know how long you will have to pay child support for. Understanding this will help you plan how much money to set aside for your children.

Exceptions for Paying

In Connecticut, a noncustodial parent that has to pay child support will usually end up paying support until the child reaches the age of 19 or until the child completes the 12th grade, whichever comes first.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. While this is a general rule in Connecticut, there are some exceptions. For instance, if your child becomes an emancipated minor, your obligation to pay child support will end. If your child is emancipated, this means that they will be legally separated from both parents. In this case you will no longer have to pay child support.

Another way that you won’t be held responsible for paying child support is if your child is married before the age of eighteen. Similarly, if your child enters the armed services and is placed on active duty, you will no longer be obligated to pay child support.

Lastly, if your child earns an income that is large enough to sustain themselves, you will no longer have to pay child support. In most cases, if you have to pay child support for one or more child, you will have to do so until your children are out of high school or until they turn nineteen. However, in the case that you want to continue supporting your child after they are older than nineteen, you may do this. You just won’t have the legal obligation to do so anymore.

By | 2017-05-09T16:49:00+00:00 December 15th, 2016|Divorce|Comments Off on Child Custody and Support

Child Custody and Support

by Stephen Lebedevitch time to read: 18 min
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