Child Custody law covers the relationship between parent and child. Legal custody is the right of a parent to make important life decisions for a child, such as school. Physical custody governs where the child lives, such as with one parent (sole physical custody) or both (joint physical custody.) Custody issues can also involve issues related to adoption, step-parents and grandparent’s rights. The standard used in deciding child custody issues is the “best interests of the child.” The court may take into account a number of factors, such as which parent is the child’s primary care giver, parenting skills, mental and physical health, history of domestic violence and the wishes of the child. It is common to have the parents of the child (or children) avoid court and work out their differences in mediation, a voluntary and confidential process.
Child Support law, also known as “child maintenance”, is a continuous periodic payment made by a parent for the benefit of a child after a marriage or relationship is over. Child support payments are paid directly to the parent or guardian who cares for the child. The money and proceeds are to be used solely for the care and support of the child.Each state establishes guidelines for the amount of child support due from one parent to the other. Some factors used to calculate child support payment amounts include the income of each parent and time the child spends with each parent. Payment amounts may be modified by petitioning the court. A family law attorney can provide assistance in court as well as handling child support hearings and mediation, commonly used for solving disputes.