Should Children Have a Say in Child Custody Plans as They Age?

When children are younger, parents and the courts are likely in the best position to determine which living arrangements will best meet a child’s needs. Younger children will most likely feel secure if they are permitted to equal time with both parents. However, as children reach the adolescent years, they begin to develop their own identity and want more of a say in decisions that impact their lives.

In addition to wanting more independence, teenagers often become more active in both their extracurricular activities and social lives. Older children also bear more scholastic responsibility, all of which may make shuttling between homes more awkward and irritating for them. In spite of how parents may personally feel about their current custody arrangements, teenagers may need to be given more freedom to express their living preferences. Teens who are not permitted some say in their personal life may rebel and engage in various disruptive behaviors.

Those who allow children to choose which parent they prefer to spend more time with may reap the rewards of a closer relationship down the road. While it may not be safe in some situations to allow children to have a choice in child custody orders, in those families where it may be feasible, children may find a compromise that suits both parents. Kentucky residents who feel that their custody orders may need to be modified, or have other issues relating to family law, may seek the assistance of an experienced attorney.

WHAT TO DO AND NOT DO RE CHILD SUPPORT MODIFICATION IN KENTUCKY

If you recently navigated the Kentucky divorce process, you can give yourself a pat on the back, as you likely faced and overcame several challenges along the way, especially if you have children. You hopefully had a strong support network in place to help you protect your parental rights and achieve a co-parenting agreement that keeps your kids’ best interests in mind. If you pay child support, you’ll want to make sure you clearly understand what the court does and does not allow regarding the process.  

There may come a time when something changes with your finances, making your current payment agreement no longer feasible. It’s not uncommon as most people’s lives include financial ups and downs; the problem is that you must adhere to a court order, even if you are currently in a downward slope of your financial status. If a problem arises, you can seek immediate support so you don’t wind up in serious legal trouble.  

Keep these things in mind concerning child support    

There’s no shame in seeking modification of your child support order if something happens that makes it impossible for you to meet payments as they stand. The following list includes actions you want to avoid as well as other steps you definitely want to take if you run into payment problems: 

  • The very worst thing you can do if you are facing financial problems as a payor of child support is to stop making payments. The court can hold you in contempt if you do this.
  • It’s also not acceptable to create and implement a new plan, even if your former spouse agrees to it, without seeking the court’s approval. 
  • In short, once the court issues a child support order, it stands, unless and until the court grants permission for a change. Otherwise, both parents are obligated to adhere to the existing order. 
  • You do want to bring your financial matter to the court’s immediate attention to avoid problems. 
  • You do want to show proof of need, meaning evidence of a legitimate reason for requesting modification. 
  • You also want to make sure ahead of time that your reason is valid. Losing your job, incurring income reduction or expanding your family size through step-children in a new marriage are potentially valid reasons for requesting child support modification.  

Spending monies due for child support on a beach vacation or buying a new car may not sit well with a judge.  Also, disputes between you and your ex are not resolvable through child support retaliation.

Go through the proper channels        

If you have a medical emergency or some other dire need that has caused undue financial strain, it is perfectly acceptable to file a petition requesting modification of your child support order. As with most divorce-related issues, there is a specific process to follow. You can request a temporary or permanent adjustment of your payment amount. If you’re unsure about a particular legal issue, it’s always best to seek support rather than try to go it alone.

CHILD’S FEARS LEAD TO MODIFICATION OF CHILD CUSTODY AGREEMENT

Recently, a family court judge made the determination that a prior custody plan that provided for joint legal custody was no longer suitable for one child’s needs. The parents had married in 2006 and were divorced by 2009. The custody plan for their then-toddler awarded physical custody to the mother while both parents shared in the legal custody. The father of the child is of the Muslim faith while the formerly Christian mother had converted for the sake of her new spouse.

After the divorce, the mother reverted to her Christian faith. The parents’ custody plan did not specify with which religion the child would be raised; therefore, both parents taught her the tenets of their individual beliefs. Over time, the child reported concerns to her mother and school officials that her father was pressuring her to practice the Muslim faith exclusively or he would move with her to his native country.

The mother sought to relieve her daughter’s fears by seeking sole legal custody. After the hearing, the judge ruled that the situation merited a change in the original child custody orders and granted sole legal custody to the mother. In this case, the age of the daughter did allow her to express an opinion that the court took into consideration. Kentucky parents who believe that their custody orders need to be modified based on a change in circumstances can seek information concerning appropriate modifications from an experienced family law attorney.

Source: reason.com, “Child Custody, Religion, and Children’s Reactions to a Parent’s Religious Demands“, Eugene Volokh, Feb. 15, 2018

 

WHEN YOUR SPOUSAL SUPPORT JUST ISN’T ENOUGH

During your marriage, you stayed home to raise the kids or experienced a number of other circumstances that kept you away from the job force. This left you fully financially dependent on your spouse. There is nothing wrong with this; in fact, it is a situation in which many Kentucky residents find themselves. However, you got a divorce and you now find yourself struggling financially despite being awarded spousal support. What can you do?

Spousal support payments, in most cases, occur on a temporary basis. It is usually just enough to help the individual receiving it find some financial footing. Unfortunately, some struggle to do so in the specified time frame. If you find yourself in such a situation, you may have the ability to obtain an alimony modification.

Support basics: How to qualify

Alimony is not something granted in every divorce case. If you and your spouse do not come to agreeable terms regarding this matter on your own, it will be up to a court to decide if you get it, how much you receive and for how long. In order to decide, a judge will look at various factors, including:

  • How long your marriage lasted
  • The marital standard of living
  • Your age and the age of your spouse
  • Your economic need
  • Your spouses’ ability to pay

As previously stated, support duration is generally temporary. However, in select cases, long-term spousal support is possible.

Circumstances can change

Okay, you’ve been divorced for a while and receiving your alimony payments. Unfortunately, you are finding that it just isn’t enough or that you are going to need it longer than which your order specifies. Depending on the wording of your alimony order, you may be able to have the payment amount, duration or both adjusted. To do this, you will have to provide evidence that your need has changed.

The word need can be rather controversial when dealing with a support modification. The payor is likely to fight any request to increase the amount or duration, so your need must be a documented change in circumstances.

For example, your order specifies that you are to receive payments for five years, allowing you to go to school and have time to find a good paying job. You find, however, that school takes longer than expected or you struggle to find employment when done with school. This may qualify you for an alimony modification.

Post-decree adjustments, you never know until you try

Post-decree spousal support adjustments are not necessarily easy to achieve. This is not a fight you have to take on by yourself, though. With the right legal assistance, you can take all the steps necessary to petition for the modifications desired and significantly increase your odds of success.