Child support ensures that a child’s basic needs are provided by his or her parents, who might otherwise neglect their responsibilities to maintain the child. Child support is intended to take care of the children’s financial needs following the separation or divorce of their parents.
The “best interests of the children” is the key factor in determining how custody and visitation is be determined. Above all, love, respect, and mutual affections should be fostered in every situation. It will be crucial that the children’s relationship with their non-custodial parent be protected.
In making a custody award, a court should consider the following: 1. The parents’ ability to communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child; 2. The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse; 3. The interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings; 4. The history of domestic violence, if any; 5. The safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent; 6. The preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision; 7. The needs of the child; 8. The stability of the home environment offered; 9. The quality and continuity of the child’s education; 10. The fitness of the parent; 11. The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes; 12. The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation; 13. The parents’ employment responsibilities; and 14. The age and number of the children. A parent shall not be deemed as “unfit” unless the parent’s conduct has a substantial adverse effect on the child. As with most decisions, the court will also consider any factor the parents deem relevant.
Once the decision on custody has been reached, a parenting plan should be adjusted to suit each individual case, and may contain the following schedule: