If you’re separated or getting a divorce from your kid’s other parent, you probably have a ton of questions about custody and child support. In an ideal world, these are things you wouldn’t have to think about. But in the real world, parents split up, and rarely is it possible to simply go your separate ways. Lots of issues have to be addressed when you have kids in common, starting with where your child lives and how their expenses are paid for. In this excellent blog posting, Claire Gillespie writes what all divorced parents need to know about custody and child support.
There’s more than one type of custody
Custody doesn’t just cover where children go to bed at night and wake up in the morning. There are two aspect of custody — physical custody and legal custody. Kids live with the parent who has physical custody and have “visitation” with the other parent, while legal custody is the right to make important decisions (about education, health care, religion, international travel, etc.) relating to a child.
The child’s best interests come before everything else
When making any decision that affects a child, the court’s paramount consideration is the best interests of that child.
Courts shouldn’t discriminate
When determining what’s in the best interests of a child, certain factors shouldn’t be relevant, including the gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability or financial status of the parent.
Child support is for the kids
Child support shouldn’t make the party giving or receiving it feel like they can use it for revenge or any other negative means — it should be looked at solely through the lens of what is necessary to help with the upkeep of the child.
Court isn’t the only option
You don’t have to endure months (or years) of court proceedings to do what’s best for your kids. There are many alternatives for resolving parenting issues outside of court. These days, more and more parents are choosing to sit down with a mediator to determine a parenting plan that works best for their family and to settle the matters of support. In making decisions together in a cooperative fashion, parents set up a new paradigm of cooperative compromise and communication, which helps them to co-parent beyond the divorce or separation.