Divorcing couples with children must take special care to resolve issues of child custody, visitation, and support. Child support is a specific fixed amount of money that is paid by the non-custodial (non-residential) parent for the care of the children. In New Hampshire, the courts will determine the amount of child support based on a number of factors using a mathematical calculation. In general, the calculation will be a percentage of the total family income. The amount of child support increases with the number of children. Support is usually paid until the child reaches the age of 18. If you’re going through a divorce consult with an experienced New Hampshire family law attorney for review and guidance.
When parents talk about custody they need to understand that there are actually two main types. Physical custody refers to where the child will reside and legal custody refers to major decision making for the children. Within these types of custody there are both primary and joint custody options to consider. Most parents today want to have an equal say-so in making the major decisions in their children’s lives. As long as both parents are capable, joint legal custody is likely a viable option. Keep in mind that parents must be able to communicate with each other in order to be able to successfully co-parent. A knowledgeable New Hampshire divorce attorney will be able to help you work through the issues and decide which type of child custody would work best in your situation.
Parents must determine how they will continue effective parenting after the divorce is final. In New Hampshire, the courts are clear that the first and foremost objective of any parenting option is that it be done in the best interest of the child. Parents must put aside their own disagreements and agendas and make decisions based solely on what is best for their children. Some terms you will see regarding parenting options include:
Primary custodial parent
Visitation is generally allowed for the non-custodial parent. The exact terms of the visitation agreement can vary greatly from family to family – it’s based on what works for your particular situation. Some parents have weekly visits while others see their children more or less often.
A parenting plan is a necessary part of every child custody and support resolution. The court requires that parents create a parenting plan that will become part of the final order. Parents must work together to come to agreement on the plan. Some of the most important items that need to be covered in a parenting plan include:
Where the children will reside
Which school the children will attend
Schedule of parenting responsibilities
Guideline for future relocation of parents
How to resolve potential disputes
Child Support Calculations
Child support is money that is provided from to the custodial parent to cover expenses for the child. In New Hampshire as in other states, child support is calculated using a mathematical formula. The formula starts by adding the income of both spouses together and then using specific types of deductions. The result is then checked on a table to determine the child support amount. The table is updated regularly to include cost of living increases. The non-residential parent will pay a percentage of the child support based on his or her income as well as the total family income. Unless there are special circumstances, the courts generally utilize the formula and charts to determine support.
Courts in New Hampshire are very aware of protecting children. Many times when parents are unable to make agreements regarding custody, visitation, or support issues, the court will assign a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem’s job is to ensure that best interests of the children are considered. The guardian may or may not be an attorney but is aware of the law. The guardian ad litem is an advocate for the children, especially for those who are too young to understand what’s happening. The guardian is expressly for the purpose of handling divorce matters in court and does not have any jurisdiction outside of this situation. The guardian will review the details of the divorce and may make a recommendation based on the findings. The guardian acts in the best interest of the child but is not governed by what the child wants.
Resolving Custody Disputes
Disputes involving custody are common among parents who are divorcing. In general, the judge wants couples to come to an agreement about the main issues regarding the children. If a parenting plan is not forthcoming, the judge will require the couple to get mediation. Sometimes the situation can be resolved more easily and more quickly before going through mediation if you have an experienced New Hampshire divorce attorney. Your lawyer understands the laws involving child custody and will assist you in making the decisions that make sense in your situation. It is important to keep in mind that it’s normal to experience some discomfort when it comes to giving up some of the control of your children. Remember that both parents are equally able to care for the children unless there are some extenuating circumstances that would make it harmful for the child.
If parents cannot agree to the parenting plan the judge will often order mediation. A mediator is a professional with expertise in handling disputes. The mediator may or may not be an attorney so it is helpful to have your New Hampshire family law attorney present during mediation sessions. The purpose of the mediator is to assist couples in working through difficult issues and in better communication. The mediator is not supposed to provide you with advice so if you have any questions you should ask your attorney. Mediation will usually resolve the issues and get the couple through the blockage and moving forward. With a parenting plan in place, the court can proceed with the divorce and child support orders.
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