Child Custody, Visitation and Child Support Emma Kazaryan Icebreaker What are some importan factors to consider when determining custody, visitation and child support arrangements? Pt. I Introduction to Custody, Visitation, and Child Support Defining Custodial Relationships Legal Custody Refers to a parent’s authority to make major decisions on behalf of the child. Physical Custody Refers to a parent’s right to have a child reside with him or her and the obligation of the parent to provide for routine daily care of child. How is Custody Determined? “Best Interests of the Child” How Custody is NOT Determined Paternal/maternal presumption Cohabitation Careers Gay and Lesbian Parents Parental conduct not affecting child Child Custody Modification • Once custody is determined, courts generally value stability. • Custody is usually modified only upon a showing of: 1. substantial change in circumstances 2. modification would serve child’s best interests 3. present environment endangers child’s health 4. harm to child caused by modification outweighed by benefits Relocation • If one parent has sole custody and wants to move out of state with the child, he or she can generally do so • If parents share joint custody, the parent seeking relocation must file a petition showing that the move is in the best interests of the child Visitation Uniform Marriage Divorce Act Section 407(a): “a parent not granted custody of the child is entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation would endanger seriously the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.” Standards for Denying or Limiting Visitation abuse/neglect alcohol/substance abuse child abduction cohabitation withholding child support parent who is gay or lesbian What is Income for Purposes of Child Support? Usually ‘income from any source’ including: wage and salary interest, dividends and royalties self-employment income retirement, benefits, trust income Imputation of Income If a parent is unemployed or underemployed, courts will sometimes ‘impute’ income to the parent and based on the imputed income. For example, if someone is voluntarily unemployed, the court might assume that the parent makes minimum wage for purposes of calculating child support obligations. Calculating Child Support Income Shares Model Support amount based on the combined incomes of the parents and that amount is prorated between the parents based on the percentage of combined income attributable to each. Percentage of Income Model The noncustodial parent pays a state mandated percentage of his or her income for child support. Example: Income Shares Model • Dad makes $6,000 a month • Mom makes $4,000 a month • State mandates that the child support amount for $10K monthly income is $1K • Dad owes $600 in child support • Mom owes $400 in child support • Mom is custodial parent • Dad would just pay Mom difference ($200/monthly) in child support Example: Percentage of Income Model • Mom makes $5,000 monthly • State mandates that people who have two children and make $5K monthly must pay 20% in child support • Dad has primary custody • Mom owes dad $1K monthly Consequences of Failure to Pay Child Support • • • • • • • • • • Federal crime Contempt of court State laws against criminal nonsupport Inception of tax refund Wage garnishment Driver’s license suspension Occupational license suspension Seizing awards Credit bureau reporting Publication of a “Most Wanted” list of “Deadbeat obligors” • Etc. ! Pt. II Scenarios & Small Group Discussions Scenario #1 Kim and Kanye are parents of baby North. In a custody hearing, the judge granted custody to Kim. The judge said “everybody knows that mothers are better at taking care of children than fathers. Mothers are more loving, caring and kind and they should always get primary physical custody.” Is there anything wrong with the judge’s determination of custody? Why or why not? Scenario #2 Kail and Joe are parents of Isaac. Kail and Joe had a parenting plan and a schedule for child support payments and everything seemed to be going fine. However, a few months ago they got into a fight and Joe stopped making child support payments. As a result, Kail has refused to let Joe see Isaac until he pays child support. Did Kail (legally) do the right thing? Scenario #3 Beyoncé and Jay-Z are parents of Blue Ivy. Jay and Bey live in an income shares model state. Beyoncé makes $6 million monthly. Jay-Z makes $4 million monthly. The state mandates that the child support amount for $10M monthly income is $2M. Jay-Z has primary custody of Blue Ivy. How much does Beyoncé owe Jay-Z in child support? Scenario #4 Justin and Selena are parents of baby Jelena. Selena has sole custody of baby Jelena and Justin has visitation every other weekend. Tired of being hounded by the paparazzi, Selena decides to move to Washington with the baby so that Jelena can have a normal childhood. Justin doesn’t want Selena to move to a different state, it makes him uncomfortable. He files a motion to block the relocation. Will Justin succeed on his motion? Scenario #5 Angelina and Brad have six kids (!!). They have been secretly separated for a number of years, and they have finally decided to get a divorce. During their separation, the kids lived primarily with Angelina. However, Brad insists he should get primary custody of the children. If he can’t get custody of all of the kids, he is willing to settle for custody of his three favorite kids and let Angelina have the other three. What are some of the issues here? Scenario #6 David is a professional soccer player and makes an annual salary of $18 million annually. He and his wife, Victoria, are in the process of getting a divorce. Angry at the prospect of paying a huge chunk of his salary to Victoria as child support, David decides to quit his job as a professional athlete and drop all of his endorsement deals. Can Victoria do anything to get the child support she is owed?