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Child Custody and Child Support

Child custody

Child custody is generally split into two categories: legal custody and physical custody. One can be joint while the other can be solely granted to one party, but generally Courts are now looking at this issue of custody as a “Parenting Plan”. Generally when one party requests the Court to make a determination on Custody, the Court will first send both parties to mediation with Family Court Services. The parties will have between 90-120 minutes to discuss the issues they are having and see if they can come to a resolution. For all issues that are not resolved, the mediator will write a report making recommendations to the Judge as to what s/he thinks should be ordered. Then the parties go to Court, make their arguments and have the judge issue an order as to how the Parenting Plan should work.

Child Support

Generally, child support is requested at the same time that custody is requested, because the amount of child support awarded to a custodial parent is generally dependent on the amount of time the non-custodial parent spends with the child. There are two kinds of support orders, (1) those that the parents agree upon, and (2) those that the Court orders based on a formula designated by statute called “guideline child support”. If the parties agree to a child support amount, then they can create a written stipulation or request the judge to enter that amount into another order. By contrast, if the parties cannot agree, then the Court will look at both parties’ income and expenses and make a determination as to what the child support amount will be.  Upon a change in circumstances by the parties, the child support order can be altered at any point before during and after a dissolution or parentage action.

Spousal Support

Unlike child support, spousal support is set one time for a period of time at the end of the dissolution and cannot be altered in most circumstances. So, it is very important to get a proper spousal support award before the end of your dissolution proceedings. However, temporary spousal support orders can be set and changed during the period between filing a petition for dissolution and a judgment for dissolution.

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