Family Law

The assurance of supporting a child in all his/her needs is assured through child support, a regular (can be monthly) and timely financial assistance paid by one parent to his/her former spouse who has custody of their child. Child support is meant to cover the basic needs of the child, including food, shelter, clothing, education and health care. The parent who makes the payment is called the obligor, while the one to whom payment is given, who also has custody of the child, is called the obligee.

Courts usually rule that payment of child support be done only until the child turns 18 years old or reaches the age of emancipation. There may be instances, however, wherein the court would require the obligor to help in the child’s further financial needs, such as advanced education, dental needs, medical treatment and/or vacations.

Like in determining the child’s rightful custodian, courts also consider essential factors in deciding the amount the obligor has to pay for his/her child’s support. Some of the factors considered are the child’s age and cost of his/her needs, the capability of the obligor to pay and the parent’s present income. This obligation of divorcing spouses, to support their biological child/children, is specified in the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984.

With their differences in interests, many parents find it so hard to come to an agreement. Thus, when settling this divorce-related issue, it is often necessary that everything is settled through the help of a family law attorney who will help each reach an acceptable agreement without compromising their rights and their child’s interests.

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Child custody is a decision pronounced by a court as to who between the divorcing or separating parents ought to have control and responsibility over the child (who is below 18 years old). Before the 1800s, due to matters that concerned property law and inheritance, child custody was automatically awarded to the father. Courts reconsidered their position on this matter, however, and concluded that custody ought to be given to mothers since they can take care of their children definitely better than fathers.

This maternal preference of courts, which was called the Tender Years Doctrine, gave mothers exclusive custodial rights over young children during divorce, and this went on until the 1990s, until it was deemed unconstitutional in 45 states. The gender-neutral custody law finally replaced both practices.

Though states may differ in the factors considered when deciding who ought to have child custody, one rule is observed by all – that the decision should be made in consideration of the best interest of the child. Due to this, if the court sees fit, custody may even be awarded to both parents, to make sure that the child never loses communication and is never deprived of the love and time of both parents.

There are cases when one parent is deemed unfit by the court, so that allowing the child to spend time with him/her would only cause greater harm than good to the child. In this instance, it would be obvious that such parent will be denied custody of his/her child.

Being deemed unfit by the court can be due to various reasons, including alcohol/drug abuse/dependence, child abuse, failure to provide the child’s basic needs, causing the child to experience physical and/or mental danger, abandoning the child, and being charged with a crime in Denton.

Some hold the belief that those charged with a crime does not automatically make them bad or unfit fathers. Just like the fact that robbers are not outright liars. To prove this, though, and to convince the court of it, one should have convincing proof and a really good family law lawyer who understands his/her situation and is determined to fight for his/her case in court.

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