One of the main reasons people contact family lawyers is to deal with an upcoming custody hearing or issues related to meeting existing child support obligations. Raising a child is now more expensive than ever, and when courts and attorneys are involved in the process, the amount of time and money that needs to be invested also increases. There are a number of ways that an experienced family lawyer can help minimize conflict, and produce a favorable result while keeping cost down.
The stress of dealing with custody issues
Child custody is often a highly contested issue for a number of reasons. Aside from a parent’s emotional attachment to their kids and a desire to spend as much time with them as possible, costs related to daycare, healthcare, and other services can become expensive. Because the non-custodial parent will have to pay indirectly for most of these services without the benefit of spending time with the child, they will often do everything they can to maximize their custody time and minimize the amount of time the child spends with the other parent. The custodial parent will be the one making most of the day-to-day decisions about a child’s upbringing and how child support payments are budgeted and spent. This is why only the best lawyers should be trusted to help during this time.
A local news story from St. Petersburg detailed how some parents need help with the massive expenses associated with child care.
College campus is awarded large child care grant
The St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus was awarded a grant of over $300,000 to help students deal with their child care expenses. Congressman Charlie Crist visited the campus on behalf of the Department of Education and presented the check to the administration. A survey of students on the campus found that over 60% of low income parents are struggling with their child care costs, and it may affect their ability to remain in school. An organization called CCAMPIS has developed a number of ways to help address this problem, mostly through financial assistance and other services on campus and in the surrounding community.
The total amount that will be given to the school will equal just over $1 million over the course of the next four years. The college will work with a number of local organizations to develop a voucher system based on need, where parents will have access to high quality child care services. The program will formally begin for the Spring 2020 semester.
Custody can be crucial
The best way for a parent to maintain control over how their child is raised and how child care money is spent is to maximize their custody time. In the state of Florida, a number of factors are used to determine the best interests of the child during a custody hearing. This legal standard can be vague at times, but family court judges will usually award majority custody to the parent with a clean background that does not include things like criminal records or substance abuse issues. They also look to minimize disruptions to the child’s life and maximize their ties to the community by avoiding constant moving or traveling.
How to prepare for the custody hearing
There are a number of ways you can help your attorney portray you in the best possible light during a custody hearing. This can include providing them with various financial records, the child’s healthcare records and history, information about daycare or other arrangements if the child needs to be watched by someone else, the child’s performance in school, and even negative information about the other parent. As an advocate, your family lawyer’s job is to convince the judge that you are better equipped to provide a stable environment for the child than the alternative.
Modifying custody arrangements
If you are already dealing with an unfavorable custody arrangement, it is possible to schedule a hearing to modify custody, although it will be necessary to demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances and that the modification would be in the best interest of the child. Reasons to modify may include bad conduct by the other parent (including neglect or abuse), substance abuse issues, one parent moving a substantial distance from the other parent, or a parent failing to exercise time-sharing.
Child support issues
Once a shared parenting plan is in place, you may be required to pay monetary support to the other parent. This is a serious financial obligation and consequences for missed payments are severe. If you begin to have trouble making payments or feel that a modification is in order, it is important to contact your lawyer as soon as possible before facing penalties such as a driver’s license suspension, garnished wages, or even jail time.
Attorneys in your area can assist with family law issues
Help is available from an experienced family law attorney in the St. Petersburg area. The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet can provide guidance during divorces, child support or custody issues, and related matters. You can get started with a free consultation today.