In most cases, getting married again after a divorce will not affect a parent’s obligation to pay child support or the right to receive it. Since divorce-related laws do vary from state to state, you should consult a family law attorney near Owings Mills for legal guidance for your specific situation. If you are the noncustodial parent who is paying child support, you should not expect to have the payments increased solely because you remarried. Child support law doesn’t confer responsibility for the children to the new spouse.
If you are the custodial parent who is receiving support payments, you should continue to receive the same amount as before you remarried, regardless of whether your household now has two incomes. Some custodial parents who remarry consider canceling the child support agreement altogether. However, it’s still the noncustodial parent’s obligation to provide for the children’s needs. If child support payments aren’t needed for daily expenses, they could be contributed to a college savings fund instead.
Divorce usually results in difficult financial situations, which your alimony lawyer in Owings Mills will help you sort through. You may also wish to consult an accountant when it’s time to file your tax return, instead of handling tax changes yourself. If you’re the parent with primary physical custody of the child, you’re entitled to receive child support. These payments do not have to be reported as income—you’ll receive them tax-free to defray the expenses of rearing your child. If you’re awarded alimony after the divorce , you will typically have to report these checks as income, and they’ll be subject to taxation.
You might find yourself making alimony and child support payments after the divorce. In this case, your tax situation will be similar to that of your ex’s, only in reverse. You cannot deduct child support on your taxes in order to reduce your tax liability. However, you can usually deduct alimony payments, provided those payments are made in cash, rather than property. Additionally, alimony payments must be court-ordered if they are deducted.
Arguably, divorce is more difficult for the children than for the parents. When you make an appointment with a family law attorney near Owings Mills, take the time to also schedule a consult with a family therapist. Even if the children don’t go to the therapist with you, he or she can help you learn how to protect your kids from the most harmful aspects of divorce. Additionally, consider divorce mediation, which may help both parents co-parent more effectively.
When you watch this video, you’ll hear directly from some children of divorce. They explain what they wish their parents knew when they were getting divorced. Some of their recommendations include: Never argue in front of the kids, never ask the children to pass messages between parents, and never use the children as leverage against the other parent.
A child support attorney serving the Owings Mills area can estimate how much you can expect to pay, based on the state’s guidelines and your family’s finances. Unlike child custody, there is a set formula that divorce judges follow to determine a fair child support payment .
When you watch this video, you’ll learn that this formula relies on both parents’ income, household expenses, and the child’s financial needs. You’ll be asked to fill out a detailed financial statement, and your ex-spouse will do the same. Your attorney will adjust your net income based on whether you pay or receive alimony. If you already pay child support for children from a different relationship, these payments will be taken into consideration. Additionally, the courts may consider the family’s standard of living prior to the divorce.
Under divorce law, it is presumed that, barring evidence to the contrary, it’s in a child’s best interests to have balanced and ongoing access to both parents. Even when this is accomplished, other relatives may sometimes get left out. Grandparents can be powerful role models and loving caregivers for children. Grandparents who have been refused time with their grandchildren do have the legal right to request visitation. This is a complex issue, however, and grandparents are more likely to have a favorable outcome for their case by working with a family law attorney serving the Owings Mills area.
Understanding Federal Rulings
Initially, Maryland divorce law simply stated that the court may choose to award reasonable visitation to grandparents if it’s in the child’s best interests. Family law judges have considerable discretion when determining if something is or isn’t in a child’s best interests. However, this law was affected by a decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. The case, Troxel v. Granville, was resolved with the ruling that fit parents are ultimately responsible for making decisions in their children’s best interests, and that they could choose to deny visitation with grandparents.
Overriding Parental Objections
In 2002, the Maryland Court of Appeals handed down a ruling on the case of Shurupoff v. Vockroff. In its ruling, the court established two ways in which grandparents could successfully obtain visitation despite parental objections. The first is to prove parental unfitness. The second is by proving that exceptional circumstances apply. Grandparent rights were further supported by the decision in the 2007 case, Koshko v. Haining. In its ruling, the Maryland Court of Appeals determined that exceptional circumstances exist to override parental objections when the absence of grandparent visitation would be harmful to the child.
Seeking Visitation with Grandchildren
Both case law and statutory law are still evolving in Maryland regarding grandparent visitation rights. A family lawyer can evaluate the merits of seeking visitation on a case-by-case basis, considering any recent legal developments. The process of seeking visitation rights starts with the filing of a petition with the appropriate court.
Ideally, both parents would wholeheartedly follow child custody agreements and work together cooperatively for the best interests of the children. Violations of custody orders only harm the child, and unfortunately, they are quite common. When child custody issues affect families in Owings Mills, a divorce attorney can help the non-violating parent find a good solution. It’s advisable to take action sooner, rather than later. Unless the violation was an honest mistake, it’s quite likely that the violating parent will repeatedly test the limits of the other parent’s patience.
Parental alienation is arguably the type of violation that is most damaging to the child. It often stems from violations of the non-disparagement clause, which requires both parents to refrain from badmouthing the other parent in front of the child. Disparagement can take many forms. It can include hypothetical statements like, “Your father is always running late. I wonder if he even really wants to see you,” and “Looks like the child support is late again,” and “If you’d rather stay with your friends this weekend instead of seeing your father, that’s fine with me.” Disparagement of the other parent is so damaging because it causes highly impressionable children to turn away from the disparaged parent. In severe cases, the children may voluntarily cut off all contact with the disparaged parent because they’ve been made to think, wrongfully, that this parent is evil or abusive.
When the violating parent has engaged in disparagement and encouraged parental alienation, children often refuse to see the other parent. In other cases, the violating parent may decide to refuse to let the kids go with the other parent. Aside from protecting the kids from an imminent risk of harm—such as if the visiting parent arrives in an intoxicated state—there is no lawful reason to deny visitation. Late child support payments have nothing to do with a parent’s right to spend time with his or her children.
Even if visitation isn’t denied outright, the violating parent may attempt to interfere with it in some way. Violating parents might make a habit of scheduling doctor or dentist appointments during visitations, for example.
Custody violations can include violations of joint legal custody. Legal custody refers to the authority to make major decisions for the child’s upbringing, such as decisions about schooling. If the parents share joint legal custody, then they must both agree to major decisions. An example of a violation occurs when one parent pulls a child out of school and enrolls that child in a different school without consulting the other parent.
The child custody laws applicable to Owings Mills, Maryland give the judge broad discretion in determining whether a child can voice his or her own preferences about the type of child custody arrangement. When establishing the original custody agreement , the judge will determine on a case-by-case basis if the child is mature enough to express his or her preferences. Judges will not consider poorly reasoned opinions, such as a child wanting to live with the mother because she has looser house rules. Greater weight is given to evidence of emotional attachment.
After the type of child custody has already been determined, either parent may later file for a modification due to substantial changes in circumstances. At this time, the child may again be able to voice an opinion. A child can only file the petition for him- or herself when he or she is at least 16. The teen must prove that a change in custody serves his or her best interests regarding emotional and physical well-being.
Once a judge issues a ruling on the type of child custody arrangement, either parent must have a compelling reason to request a modification. A family lawyer serving Owings Mills may file a petition to request a modification if either parent has experienced a significant change in life circumstances. A substantial change doesn’t automatically compel a judge to order a modification, however. The change must be proven to be in the child’s best interests.
One reason to have a family lawyer file this petition is if the custodial parent intends to undertake a long-distance move away from the noncustodial parent. Maryland law requires the relocating parent to file a written notice with the court and the non-relocating parent at least 90 days before the scheduled move. It’s possible for the non-relocating parent to agree to the move, in which case the parents can submit the written agreement to the court. If the non-relocating parent doesn’t agree to it, he or she has 20 days to file an objection after receiving the notice. Attorneys can represent the parties at the hearing, during which the court will consider which arrangement would be in the child’s best interests. In these cases, the court is primarily concerned with maintaining stability in the children’s lives and facilitating ongoing relationships with both parents.
If you think your child is in imminent danger, don’t wait for a court order—call the local police department right away. In less urgent situations, talk to a family lawyer about requesting a modification in custody. The court may consider a modification if you can prove that the child is at risk of harm in the other household due to domestic violence, substance abuse, parental neglect, or severe mental health disorders.
Sometimes, one of the parents repeatedly violates the terms of the custody agreement. Perhaps the mother refuses to let the father have his rightful visitation or repeatedly disparages the father where the children can hear. Or perhaps the father repeatedly brings the kids back late from visits. Parental noncompliance should be documented each time it happens. The first step is generally for the parents to try to improve their communication. If this doesn’t work, one of the parents could petition the court to enforce the order. Child custody modifications may be considered when these options fail, or when the violations of the custody order are significant.
The end of a relationship can be difficult, regardless of whether the couple was married or not. This is especially true when the couple shares a child. Even though the couple won’t need to file for divorce, they’ll still need to consult a child custody lawyer in the Owings Mills area regarding custody, visitation, and support agreements. It is possible, though not always practical, for unmarried ex-partners to make parenting agreements without going to court.
Identify the custody and visitation issues that must be resolved.
There are many more issues that must be agreed upon other than the type of child custody you’ll have. Consider these questions regarding common child custody issues:
- Which parent will the child primarily live with?
- When will the other parent spend time with the child?
- Will there be overnight visitation?
- Who is responsible for picking up/dropping off the child?
- Will either parent be able to call the child at any time?
- With whom will the child spend holidays and school vacations?
- Will either parent be able to move out of the area?
- How will household rules remain consistent across houses?
- Who will make major decisions for the child’s upbringing?
A solid parenting agreement is one that is specific and easily understood. It’s best to make major decisions ahead of time, but both parents should know that a little flexibility is also important. For instance, a parenting agreement might not specify that visitation time might be canceled if the child has a stomach flu, but if the parents are reasonably flexible, they can adjust their plans to suit the child’s needs.
Agree about the child’s support.
A family lawyer can help you calculate a reasonable child support payment based on state guidelines. This may help prevent disputes about paying too much or not enough. In the support agreement, be sure to specify the amount, frequency of payment, and form of payment (check, cash, etc.).
Establish an avenue for change.
It’s normal for parenting and support agreements to change over time, whether or not a court established them. As the child grows older, his or her needs and preferences will change. It’s a good idea to have a written agreement with your ex to meet at least annually to discuss whether there are any new issues that must be resolved. Some problems may arise before your planned annual meeting. Consider setting guidelines for how you and your ex will manage disputes. A proactive mindset may help you avoid court in the future.
Even if you and your ex have a rock solid child custody agreement, it’s virtually inevitable that some moments of tension will occur. With a joint type of child custody , parents will likely have to meet each other briefly to exchange the child. You and your ex might not look forward to seeing each other again, but it’s crucial to keep the exchange as neutral and conflict-free as possible. Remember that kids easily pick up on tension, and they are apt to be psychologically harmed by it. If you’re still going through the divorce, consider talking to a family lawyer in Owings Mills about specifying the details of the exchange in the parenting agreement.
Understanding the Child’s Best Interests
For a child exchange to be conflict-free, it’s essential that both parents be on the same page about the best interests of the child. When the exchange is contentious and stressful, the child becomes anxious about each exchange, less able to enjoy spending time with either parent, and more likely to suffer from damage to self-esteem. Remember that children of divorce tend to feel significant guilt. When they see their parents fighting, they often blame themselves. Your child needs emotional stability, and only you and the other parent can provide it.
Communicating with Alternative Methods
You may need to have your family lawyer include provisions in the parenting agreement that spell out acceptable methods of communication between parents . Phone calls can be tricky when the relationship is contentious. Written communication, such as emails and texts, may be best, although phone calls will still be needed for last-minute changes in plans. By agreeing to communicate about important matters before or after the exchange—not during it—both parents can reduce the risk that a conflict will affect the child.
Adjusting the Child Exchange Method
Sometimes, despite the best intentions of the parents, child exchanges become less than harmonious. It may be best to adjust the method of the exchange before the child becomes significantly affected. Email the other parent and tell him or her that you’re concerned about the emotional well-being of your child, and would like to explore the possibility of adjusting the exchange. It may be possible to have another responsible adult with a valid driver’s license provide transportation for the child, such as the child’s grandparent or stepparent. If this isn’t possible, then consider doing the exchange in a public parking lot. Both parents could stay in their own cars and supervise the child as he or she walks from one car to the other.
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