When going through a divorce, one of the most emotional subjects is the children. While property division can certainly become a heated debate, the children are not something that can just be divided. For most parents, their children are their world. So there is nothing wrong with having your emotions tied to the determination of how much time the court is going to allow you to see them and how much money you will be obligated to pay or how much you will receive to help support your child.
Absolutely nothing wrong with emotions. The problem for many parents in California is that they hear these extreme, absolute statements about child custody or child support from their friends, their co-workers or the media. Many fail to seek experienced advice or enlist the aid of an attorney who can clarify exactly how calculations are made and help ensure that every factor is considered.
Extreme statement number one: the wealthier parent always gets custody of the kids. This is not true. When determining custody, the court first starts at a somewhat neutral point of joint custody. Then, as the court weighs the factors unique to the case, the percentage of time will start to move away from this center point. Ability to pay is not the determining standard of what makes a good parent. The “best interests of the child” is the standard, and that includes many non-monetary factors.
Extreme statement number two: support awards are never based on the real financial picture. When it comes to child support calculations, a computer does determine a majority of the obligations in California. However, a court can alter this determination to include factors that may not have been considered. For example, many parents earn money from their jobs that significantly supplement their base salary such as commissions. In other cases it is not about the income used but the expenses involved in raising the child such as special medical or educational needs that not every child has.
How do you make sure that every factor is considered in determination of your child custody and support agreements? You make sure that you have an experienced attorney who listens to your individual needs, understands special interests and makes sure the court understands them too.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Should The Richer Parent Get Custody?” Pauline Gaines, Sept. 28, 2012