Child Custody, Visitation and Child Support

Child Custody, Visitation and Child
Emma Kazaryan
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
• 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
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
• 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
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
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?

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