Child Custody and Support
Child Custody and Support – Atlanta GA Divorce Lawyers
Unfortunately some marriages and relationships fail and may involve minor children. If this is the situation you are currently finding yourself in you should consult an experienced child custody attorney, preferably one who is also a child support lawyer to assist you at this difficult time. It is important to know what rights you have, as well as the rights of the other party as it pertains to custody of the minor child/children and also who is obligated to pay and/or receive child support.
It is in the best interest of the child/children if the parents can achieve an amicable custody agreement for themselves and the minor(s). Keep in mind that if the parties cannot reach a decision the courts will impose its arrangement on the parties if a custody action is filed. However, there are situations where some parents simply can’t get past the hurt and anger to think rationally about what is best for the child/children. A child custody attorney can help those parents navigate the legal process and protect the rights of his/her client as well as the common interest of the welfare of the child/children. Typically, if the parties cannot come to an agreement one party will file a complaint for custody in the state and county of residence of the minor(s). Once this action is filed, and this may vary from state to state, there is a custodial mediation process where the parties, their respective counsel, if any, and a neutral person appointed by the court attempt to negotiate an agreement. The neutral person, or “mediator” as they are sometimes referred to, then establishes a proposed order based on the meeting which is then submitted to all parties for review and in the interim becomes a temporary agreement. If no objections are filed to this recommendation it then becomes a final custody order. Of course either party may file objections to the order and request, what is known in some jurisdictions, a judicial mediation. This judicial mediation then turns the matter of custody over to a judge who can do a variety of things such as, keep the original order in place, modify the order or enter a completely new order. If one of the parties is still dissatisfied with the outcome an appeal can be filed and the parties could proceed to a full custody trial. Please note, that this is a possible scenario which is subject to the rules and procedures of the jurisdiction presiding over the custody matter. It is crucial to select an attorney who is familiar with the legal process for custody for the specific jurisdiction to ensure all rights and interests are protected.
A common misconception is that custody and child support automatically go hand in hand, but in some states that is not the case. Support is based on financial need and in part on the amount of time the child resides with each party. The payment of support does not guarantee any kind of custody. If a parent chooses to end his/her relationship with the minor child/children, or if the court deems a parent unfit to have custody, that does not terminate his/her financial obligation. Another misconception is that if custody is equally split between the parties (such as fifty-fifty division of custody) that neither party pays support to the other. That simply may not be the case depending on the laws of the state. Some courts focus on maintaining the quality of life the child/children is accustom to prior to the separation of the parties. If one party greatly out-earns the other party, even in an equally divided custody agreement, the higher earning party could be required to pay support to the lower earning party. It is best to ask your child support lawyer to review the child support guidelines in your state prior to filing any action for support. In some situations it may be better not raising the issue of child support, but that question is best answered by a professional who is experienced in such matters.
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