When couples with children decide to break up, the issues surrounding custody and visitation often heat up. It can be downright messy. Rather than dig in their heels and fight for what they deserve, many parents agree to less time with the kids than they would like in order to speed up the process for the kids. While this is admirable in many ways, it can lead to regret after custody and child support agreements have been stamped and sealed.
Both child support and custody are handled at a state level. Though judges do their best to always treat parents fairly, some states’ rights simply favor mothers. If you are a father fighting for more time with your kids, here are a few frequently asked questions and answers about the child custody process.
Q: What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?
A: Legal custody has nothing to do with actual time spent with children. It simply determines the amount of say each parent has in decision making for the children, such as health care, what schools to attend, and even dietary decisions. In general, most judges grant joint legal custody to both parents. Physical custody refers to the amount of time children spend with each parent separately. It is generally determined in terms of percentage. In most states, a judge will grant 50/50 physical custody unless there are extenuating circumstances like an abusive parent or even one that works a lot or overnight. In every case, a judge determines the best interest of the children.
Q: How is child support determined?
A: Child support formulas vary from state to state but typically examine the needs of the children based on the income of each parent. If one parent has more physical custody than another, that is a factor in child support calculations. Both parents will be asked for financial affidavits and the specific expenses related to the children will be part of the equation too. Each state has a better explanation of its process online, and child support lawyers for fathers know how to determine the correct amounts.
Q: Can child support be modified?
A: All states allow for child support modification based on qualifying criteria, such as the loss of a job by either parent or an increase in earnings. Some states do not take the income of stepparents into account, while others will look at it for the sake of child support modification. A fathers’ rights attorney will know what your state allows when it comes to child support modification and can advise you as to whether you should petition for it or not.
Q: Can a state terminate a father’s rights?
A: The rights of either parent can be terminated by the state if that parent is deemed unfit. Reasons a state may take these steps include abuse, abandonment, or a parent’s inability to care for a child. If you feel that you are being unfairly accused of any of these items, contact an attorney that specializes in dads’ rights and get a consultation. Even dads with past criminal or drug records can have custody of their children if they are no longer participating in dangerous behavior. You do not want to take any chances that you will lose access to your children if you are capable of being a positive presence in their lives.