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Child Custody

 Q. What is custody?

A. Child custody is the right and duty to care for a child and make every day decisions about a child's health, education and welfare.

Q. What is joint custody?

A. Joint custody can mean several things in different states. Ordinarily, physical custody of a child is awarded to one or the other of the parents. The non-custodial parent will usually have rights of visitation.

Q. How do courts decide custody?

A. Normally, parents will decide as to who will have child custody before the divorce is filed. When the courts are called upon to make a decision they will universally apply the best interests of the child test.

Q. If a non-custodial parent has an affair, can the other parent obtain a change in child custody?

A. Ordinarily, a discrete affair will not constitute sufficient grounds for a change of custody. However, if the custodial parents extramarital sexual relationship has placed the child in an embarrassing situation, causes stress or otherwise harms the child, custody may be revisited.

Q. Can the non-custodial parent automatically be awarded visitation?

A. Normally the court will award visitation to the non-custodial parent. Visitation may be reduced or denied where there is substantial evidence that such visitation will be harmful to the child. An abusive parent, or one who has been abusive in the past, may be denied visitation subject to psychological treatment, counseling, or evidence of rehabilitation. Limits may be placed on visitation.

Q. How long can child support last?

A. Child support must be paid until the child is 18 years old and may continue into adulthood if the child is disabled or if there is a provision for extended child support in a marital settlement agreement. Should the child become emancipated, child support will ordinarily terminate.

Q. Who is responsible for medical insurance for the child?

A. Federal law requires that a child must be provided with medical insurance as long as the child support obligation remains in effect. Which parent will be needed to pay for medical insurance can be decided between the parties; absent an agreement, the court will make a determination.

Q. Is a unmarried parent permitted to child support?

A. The parental permitted to pay child support arises by virtue of paternity or maternity rather than marriage. An unmarried parent may bring an action to establish paternity. high-level blood testing will determine whether a party is actually the father of a child.
 

 

 

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