Child Custody Disputes – The Basics

Child Custody Disputes – The Basics

Child Support Lawyer

If you and your spouse or romantic partner have decided to go your separate ways and you have shared minor children who will be affected by your split, it is important to understand the basics of how the child custody process unfolds. You and your child’s other parent will not simply be able to “do as you please” when it comes to child custody, parenting time division, and child support. The family law judge assigned to your case will either need to “sign off on” your mutually agreed upon approaches to custody and parenting time or intervene to settle your differences in regards to these challenges. Additionally, the court will put a formal child support order into place per the guidelines set by state law.

Child Custody

In most states, parents must either mutually agree to or have a judge rule upon which parent(s) will receive legal custody and physical custody of the child. Legal custody concerns major decision-making authority. Physical custody concerns where the child resides and who makes the “everyday” decisions concerning the child’s wellbeing. Nowadays, most parents choose to split both legal and physical custody of their children. However, there are good reasons for one parent to have sole physical custody or sole legal and physical custody under certain circumstances.

Parenting Time

Once your child custody split has been determined, if both parents are going to remain active in the child’s life, the court will likely have you construct a parenting plan (sometimes referred to as a parenting agreement). This plan will detail the legally enforceable expectations that will govern your coparenting relationship. For example, you can detail when the child will reside with each parent, how you will approach splitting holidays, and who will be responsible for transportation back and forth between households.

Child Support

As an experienced child support lawyer – including those who practice at May Law, LLP – can confirm, child support guidelines are governed by state law. This means that the ways in which your child support order will be calculated and what factors will be taken into consideration when a judge contemplates exceptions to that formula will be wholly dictated by state law. You and your child’s other parent cannot simply decide to forego child support, nor can you set the terms of the order. Instead, a judge will apply the state’s rules and you can opt to go above and beyond that minimum by detailing additional obligations in your parenting plan.