How Do Courts Determine the Amount of Child Support?
When a domestic court is faced with a proceeding involving children, the court is required to consider the issue of child support. Courts in Kansas are required to follow the Kansas Child Support...
Child Custody Issues
Court child-custody proceedings can and do involve just about every aspect of the ongoing relationship between Mother and Father, as well as the children’s issues.
Courts have a mandate: make a decision that is in the “best interest of the child.” That standard applies to every decision: residence, visitation and parenting time, transportation, parenting rules, and even aspects of child support. When parents can’t agree, courts are also called upon to make other decisions such as choice of school, sports, extracurricular activities, church attendance, and even how much assistance may be provided by your new boyfriend or girlfriend. When it comes to custody fights, the issues and the disagreements between parents are endless.
Your custody issues may arise in divorce proceedings, paternity actions, juvenile matters, or protection from abuse actions. The decisions of the courts involved will potentially control where your child lives, where your child goes to school, when you see your child, when and who else may see your child, when you can travel with your child, when your child has to be available for phone calls, and potentially, even when your child has to go to bed.
Obviously, with so much at stake, it is important that the court is presented with persuasive evidence and a convincing presentation. That’s why you should have an attorney for this process, at least until you’ve been in court so many times you feel that you can make the best argument yourself. Armed with the right attorney, you should never be in court enough to reach that level of familiarity with the process.
During the years a child is under 18 years of age (court authority typically is withdrawn at the age of majority) there are likely to be many changes in the circumstances and lifestyles of both parents. There will be many changes in the child’s needs, desires, and activities as the child develops and matures. It is these changes and these changing needs that bring parents back to court over time.
It’s not possible to succinctly address the infinite variety of issues and concerns that arise in child custody proceedings. You know your child best. Whether you are entering your first custody proceedings or whether you’re not happy with the current status of decisions already made concerning your child, you should consult with a qualified attorney to explore what options you may have to ensure the best possible custody situation for your children.
CHILD SUPPORT: SO MANY ISSUES
If you have a child under 18, and you have been to court for domestic claims like divorce or paternity, your children are subject to court authority regarding financial support. It’s a long-established duty of the court, yet the process is far from transparent and is not easily navigated by the inexperienced.
Child support is not just a financial issue, it’s an emotional issue as well. “When will I get my money?” “Why do I have to pay so much?” “I can’t believe what that money is used for.” “It’s a fight every month.” Financial stress is emotional stress. Ensuring the well-being of your children – whether at your house or at the ex’s- is a matter unquestionably linked to deep emotions. It’s a subject that is frequently a cause of conflict between parents. Children are more aware of this conflict than you might think.
The financial child support provided to the custodial parent is an important resource for a parent. For that reason, it’s important for both parties to monitor child support, and modify obligations when appropriate. Any change of income of either party may ultimately be a basis for modification. Other factors include changes affecting the children: change in age; change in residence; changes in the number of siblings.
It’s important to make timely decisions regarding enforcement and modification. If you don’t modify downward in a timely fashion, you will overpay. If you don’t modify upwards in a timely fashion, you may be subject to financial sanctions and costly court processes. Arrearages in payment can result in sanctions ranging from loss of a hunting license or passport to actual prison time. Timely payment of correct support amounts benefits your children; and doing so completes your obligations while your children are still children -when the need exists- without unnecessary additional expenses from court or complications lasting long after your child turns eighteen.
Child support can modify as a result of changes in employment, income, residence, tax claims, marriage, and changes in the children’s ages and school or other expenses. Modifications can be done by agreement, or by contested proceedings in court. Inability to pay is a defense- but if you don’t modify the obligations when inability becomes apparent, each monthly unpaid obligation will become a final judgment that cannot be modified. The primary enforcement mechanism for unpaid child support is contempt proceedings against the non-paying party. Sometimes court trustees will undertake that process for you, and sometimes it’s left to parties to privately enforce the obligation. Typically, if you are not personally monitoring your payment rights or your payment obligations, both enforcements and modifications fall behind, and the result is that the amounts at issue become increasingly unmanageable to pay or recover.
For some -a small and fortunate few- monitoring and/or enforcing support obligations is just not an issue. But for most, this is an area of law that is sufficiently complicated that periodic professional review of your circumstances and obligations is justified. A professional can help you set aside the mystery of the process and empower you to be sure you are receiving-and paying-child support at the correct level. Please call and make an appointment to review your child support rights.