Child support

Do You Pay Child Support If You’re Unemployed?

About 1 in 5 children live in homes that receive child support payments. If you give child support to an ex-spouse, you likely have struggled to give the appropriate amount sometimes. If you’re unemployed, this becomes a nearly impossible challenge.

Read on to learn whether you need to pay child support when you’re out of a job (and how you can lessen the burden on yourself).

Do You Pay Child Support if You’re Unemployed?

Unfortunately for unemployed parents, the answer to this question is a resounding “yes.”

Unemployment doesn’t make a standing child support order any less valid. If you’ve been ordered to put out monthly payments by the court, those stop for no one.

If you fail to pay when unemployed, you will still need to pay up eventually. Until you do, it will accrue interest. You’ll need to pay an even heftier sum down the line, so it’s best not to skimp out on your payments even if you’re unemployed.

In more extreme cases, you could wind up with jail time, too.

What if You Can’t Afford It?

A lot of parents who don’t have child custody will talk to their former spouse if they’re unemployed. They might be able to come to an informal arrangement.

Unfortunately, these personal agreements mean nothing in a court of law. You’re still legally required to pay the originally-ordered sum. Your ex-spouse can sue you if you don’t.

Luckily, there are ways that you can negotiate a smaller payment. You need to work with an experienced family lawyer to request a modification to your support order. When you do, you can discuss your individual circumstances with the attorney and see how much you can realistically decrease your support payments.

How Does This Work?

The process of changing your child support order might slightly vary depending on your state. However, in almost every case, your lawyer will prepare court papers and file them for you. This paperwork, a Complaint for Modification form, will state that there is a difference between the court’s original order vs what you can pay now.

At that point, your lawyer will submit it to the court clerk. The clerk will give them a Summons in exchange.

This Summons informs your ex-spouse that you have filed for a change to the child support order. It tells them that they might want to consider going to court to deal with the legal case you’ve filed.

Some states also will let you file these papers on your own. However, this is a bad idea since you likely don’t have adequate training to read and interpret legal documents. It’s important that an expert files everything to make sure that all Ts are crossed and all Is are dotted.

Your lawyer will also help you serve the Complaint and Summons. They’ll bring the papers to the constable, who will take them to your ex-spouse. You’ll get the original summons back after the paperwork is served in addition to a filled-out Proof of Service section.

This is a great thing to keep for your records.

Going to Court

The point of the Complaint and Summons is to get you a court date. On this day, you’re going to need to bring a Financial Statement form to the court.

It’s important that you also send a copy to your ex-spouse. This will let them know exactly what you requested. You’ll also need to make sure they have a blank copy of the form to fill out so that everyone stays on the same page.

This is going to be tough if you try to do it on your own. After all, communicating with the other parent isn’t always easy, and it can be stressful to talk to someone you’ve had an acrimonious break-up with. An attorney can mediate, send the forms between parties, and nip unnecessary conflicts in the bud.

This makes the entire process much more painless for everyone.

You’re then going to go to court on the day that you scheduled for your hearing. Your lawyer will come with you so that you can have the best representation available. They also will make sure that all your paperwork is ready to go and bring copies to court.

So, How Much Can You Modify?

You won’t be able to choose any child support amount you like. It’s going to be based on the work possibilities available to you.

These possibilities are called ‘imputed income.’ Your imputed income will come from an assessment of your previous employment, income from those jobs, and your ability to earn more down the line. Basically, your ability and willingness to make money are primary considerations.

If you can work, the court can figure out how much you’d be able to earn. If they can’t, they might just tell you that you need to pay based on the minimum wage in your state. Your lawyer can help you figure this out and try to get you the lowest possible sum for child support payments.

Can You Pay Child Support With Unemployment Income?

If you don’t have any income, you likely are considering signing up for unemployment. If you haven’t already, check with your state’s unemployment office. Sign up for benefits.

Then, talk with the office and show them the outstanding payments you haven’t made on child support. Your state office will probably just set up a way for those fees to be taken from your unemployment benefits. You won’t even need to worry about manually paying them back.

However, this can only happen if you qualify for unemployment. You need to be actively looking for work and prepared to show proof of that.

If you don’t qualify because you’re just underemployed or are avoiding getting a job, you’re not going to have tons of options. The court’s going to defer to how much you could be earning based on your education and past income.

You need to be very proactive about finding a job. If you aren’t, you’ll lose the unemployment benefits needed to pay for not only your livelihood but also your child support payments.

Get Started

Now that you know what happens when you’re unemployed and have child support payments, it’s time to get started.

Our team is committed to helping you find a family lawyer in your area that can help. Contact us to learn more about what we do and how we can assist you with your legal case.

Family Law

8 Things You Need to Know About Family Law

According to survey results, Americans’ knowledge of civic law has jumped in the last couple of years. However, knowing your civic rights is a very different kettle of fish from family law. Most people are largely unaware of what family law involves until they find themselves facing things like divorce or child custody arrangements

So what is family law? Family law is a crucial branch of law that governs matters related to family, shared property, and dependents. 

If you’re entering into marriage, dissolving one, or dealing with any other family matter that involves things like division of property, child support, etc. you might want to familiarize yourself with some of the basic facts around family law. 

Get informed and keep reading to find out 8 key things to know about family law. 

1. Estate Planning Falls Under Family Law

Estate planning is one of the most critical (and often overlooked) areas that family law encompasses. Reports reveal that 67% of Americans don’t have an estate plan. 

One reason for this is that most of us don’t enjoy thinking about our mortality. Estate planning can easily become one of those personal “admin” tasks that get put on the back burner. 

However, proper estate planning is critical for ensuring the financial security of your family. It can also help preserve family relationships, reduce disputes, and cut down on the costs involved in winding up a diseased estate.

If you need to conduct estate planning, one of the first things to do is seek out a lawyer who specializes in family law. They will be able to help you develop a plan to mitigate estate taxes, draft a clear, undisputable will, draft living trusts, and help you create things like a durable power of attorney 

2. Prenuptials Are Another Area of Family Law

Many people are aware that divorce is a family court matter, but did you know that pre-nuptials are another branch of family law?

Just like family law governs the dissolution of marriage, it also covers marriage contracts.

Similar to estate planning, marriage contracts are another area of family law that is very easy to overlook. If you’re caught up in the early stages of romance, the last thing you probably want to think about is legal matters. 

However, creating a well-thought-out, comprehensive marriage contract is critical. Marriage contracts and pre-nuptial agreements stipulate how your property is combined, and how it’s divided should your marriage come to an end. 

Most couples do not want to consider this eventuality when they’re on the verge of tying the knot. But creating a comprehensive marriage contract is as important as drawing up a will. Often, marriage contracts and wills overlap, as they both deal with what happens to your property in the event of your death. 

3. Family Law Also Covers Abuse and Domestic Violence

Because family law handles matters relating to family, it also covers abuse and domestic violence. If you, your child, or someone you know has suffered from domestic abuse, you should consult with an attorney who specializes in family law as soon as possible. 

4. If You’re Getting a Divorce You’ll Want to Hire a Family Lawyer

Divorce is one of the most well-known branches of family law. Family law governs how property is divided during a divorce and how alimony is determined. It also decrees what constitutes as legal grounds for divorce, and who is the “at-fault” party in states that operate under the fault divorce system. 

If you’re in the process of getting divorced, a family attorney can help you navigate the process and ensure an equitable outcome. 

5. Family Law Encompasses Child Custody Matters

If there are children in a marriage, child custody is often one of the most important, and sometimes sensitive, matters to resolve. 

Family law encompasses everything to do with child custody, including physical custody, visitation rights, child support, etc. 

6. Family Law Varies by State

Here in the US, we operate under two legal systems, the federal system and the state-level legal systems.

Every state has its own legislation, and family law comes under the jurisdiction of state law. Federal law doesn’t cover cases related to family law.

Also, even though a new law or bill can be created or amended under federal law, this doesn’t necessarily change anything on a state level. It is up to the individual states to adapt their constitution to new federal legislation. 

Therefore, laws can vary widely between states. 

If you are going through a divorce, drafting a will—or anything else that falls under family law—you need to consider your specific state’s legislation. The specifics of your case can vary widely depending on what state you reside in and its specific laws. 

For instance, some states operate under an at-fault divorce system and others don’t. 

7. Family Law Isn’t Necessarily About Winning

Another important thing to know about family law is that, unlike civil law, it’s not always about winning. Yes, you want to ensure your rights are upheld and that you receive a fair and just outcome, but the focus isn’t necessarily on one party winning and the other losing. Instead, family law cases are often a process of negotiation whereby both parties (ideally) receive a favorable outcome. 

Thanks to this, the majority of family law cases are often settled out of court through processes like mediation. For example, statistics reveal that 90% of child custody disputes settle without a courtroom ruling. 

Because family law often doesn’t involve liability, a process known as collaborative family law has emerged. Under collaborative family law, attorneys have an increased focus on preserving relationships between family members, while negotiating for positive outcomes for all parties. 

8. Family Law Is Subject to Change

Family law is also unique in that it’s one of the branches of law most subject to change. Instead of remaining static, family law needs to evolve along with society. 

For instance, while same-sex marriage wasn’t recognized in a number of states until recently, it is now legal in all states. 

Are You in Need of a Family Law Attorney?

As its name suggests, family law encompasses legal matters to do with families, such as marriage contracts, child support, alimony, divorce, estate planning, and domestic abuse. 

Whether you’re embarking on marriage, dissolving your legal union, trying to get custody, or simply looking to draft a will, you need a good family law attorney on your side. 

Not sure where to find one? We can help.

Create an account, or search for family lawyers near you from our homepage. 

emancipation of minors

The Legalities: What Does Emancipation of Minors Actually Mean?

Did you know there are about 20 million emancipated minors living in the United States today? Emancipation is a tricky subject and one most people don’t know a lot about. You may know that emancipation allows a child to become a legal adult early, but what does that mean, and why is it done? 

Emancipation of minors can be an effective way to protect them from irresponsible parents or give them the legal rights they need. Read on to learn more about this process and what it means for minors.

What Is Emancipation? 

Legal emancipation of a minor is defined as a situation in which a judge has declared that the parents have surrendered the right to care, custody, and earnings of the child and have renounced parental duties. In simpler terms, a legally emancipated minor is allowed to (for the most part) live on their own as an adult. In almost all cases, this classification requires a court hearing.

Emancipation is sometimes used to protect children with substantial incomes from untrustworthy parents. This can include child stars and musicians, as well as minors running successful businesses. But more commonly, emancipation is used to allow a self-supporting minor to continue living on their own free of parental control. 

Partial vs. Complete Emancipation 

You might be surprised to learn that there are two basic types of emancipation: partial and complete. Complete emancipation is the more common form and the one most of us think of when we hear the term. In this type, the parents are no longer legally responsible for the child in any way and do not hold any legal power over them.

In a partial emancipation, only some of a parent’s legal power over their child gets removed. For instance, a child may get emancipated for a certain period of time as a trial run or during a special circumstance. A child may also gain the legal right to keep and spend their own income as they please or to make their own decision about a pregnancy. 

Benefits of Emancipation 

The benefits of emancipation for minors are much the same as the benefits of turning 18 and becoming a legal adult the traditional way. Emancipated minors can keep all of the income they earn and can make healthcare decisions for themselves. They can also file lawsuits, sign contracts, and apply for public benefits. 

The ability to sign contracts can be especially important for emancipated minors since it allows them to sign leases or rental agreements. They can even buy homes, cars, and other large items if they can pay cash or get approval from a lender. And emancipated minors can make decisions about which school they attend for the remainder of their education.

Limitations on Emancipation

Of course, just because a minor gets emancipated doesn’t mean they automatically have the full rights and privileges a legal adult does. The primary role of emancipation is to remove a child from the legal control of their parent. But there are still some things they may not be able to do until they turn 18 or 21.

Emancipated minors cant engage in legal activities that have age limits, such as drinking, smoking, gambling, getting tattoos, or getting married. It’s also important to note that getting married doesn’t automatically mean a minor is emancipated. Even in states where marriage is legal under the age of 18, those minors will still be under their parents’ legal control unless they apply separately for emancipation.

Age Requirements for Emancipation

It will likely come as no surprise that there are age limits on the emancipation of a minor. An 8-year-old isn’t going to be allowed to emancipate, no matter how irresponsible their parents might be. Instead, child services will get involved with the case, and the child will go into the foster care system until they are old enough to emancipate or until they turn 18.

In most states, the minimum age at which you can emancipate is 16, although some states have it as low as 14. And you might be surprised to learn that some people past the age of 18 can seek emancipation. If a mentally disabled person has not been declared a legal adult because of their condition, they can apply for emancipation even after they turn 18.

Routes to Emancipation

There are several routes by which a minor can emancipate, or become a legal adult. The first and most common, of course, is by turning 18, at which point they are in charge of their own legal issues. And in some states, joining the military under the age of 18 may result in a kind of emancipation, since soldiers are legally under government control. 

In some cases, a parent may agree to give up some or all of their parental control over their child. This may be more common in situations where a minor has a substantial personal income they’re looking to protect. And finally, a court may choose to emancipate a minor in response to some misconduct from the parent.

Learn More About Emancipation of Minors

The emancipation of minors is a challenging subject since it involves giving a child legal control over themselves. Emancipation may be partial or complete and can happen in several ways.

If you’d like to learn more about the emancipation of minors, check out the rest of our site at Family Attorneys Near Me. We can help you to connect with people who know what you’re going through and are here to help. Contact us today and search our network of more than 16,000 professionals to find the right one for you.

what does emancipated mean

What Does Emancipated Mean? Understanding the Process

Turning 18 brings a lot of changes to a young person’s life, including being legally independent of your parents.

But in some cases, minors can’t wait that long and may become emancipated before their 18th birthday. What does emancipated mean?

Keep reading to learn more about the emancipation process and what it means for minors and parents or guardians. 

What is Emancipation?

Put simply, emancipation is when a minor child is released from the care and control of their parents. Minor emancipation can happen through a court order or an operation of law.

Parents or custodians of minor children have a duty to support and care for them. Along with this duty comes the right to make decisions for these minors. Minor children can’t establish their own homes, file lawsuits, or enter into contracts.

This means that parents of minors can even instruct the minor’s employer to give their paychecks to the parent.

Parents of minors have these duties and rights until the child is no longer a minor – when they turn 18 years of age. However, this isn’t the only way for these duties and rights to be terminated. A minor child can become emancipated through a legal process. 

What Does Emancipated Mean for Minors?

Minors who are emancipated from their parents gain rights and responsibilities typically reserved for adults. Here are some examples:

  • Get married
  • Register for school
  • Create a will
  • Live on their own
  • Make decisions about their own medical and dental care
  • Enter into contracts
  • File lawsuits and be sued
  • Keep their paychecks
  • Apply for Medicaid and other medical assistance
  • Apply for food and cash assistance
  • Make decisions for their children

It’s important to note that there are some things that emancipated minors still can’t do. For example, an emancipated minor can’t vote or drink alcohol until they reach the legal age. 

How Does the Minor Emancipation Process Work?

Emancipation of a minor can happen automatically by operation of law or through the emancipation process by court order. Let’s take a look at how each of these forms of emancipation works in more detail.

Operation of Law

Minors can become emancipated without having to file a petition when certain requirements are met. For example, minors become emancipated when they turn 18. They can also automatically become emancipated when they get married or are on active duty in the military.

There are two other scenarios where minors can become emancipated without having to petition the courts.

The first is if a minor is in the custody of law enforcement and needs immediate medical treatment, but their parent can’t be reached in time. This is limited to nonsurgical medical care and emergency treatment.

This type of emancipation is solely for the purpose of consenting to medical treatment. A minor’s emancipation in this situation ends when the medical treatment is completed or they are released from the custody of law enforcement.

The second scenario is when a minor is a prisoner in a correctional facility. In this case, if the parent can’t be reached, a minor can be emancipated in order to consent to preventative health care and medical care.

This includes mental health care, surgery, and dental care. Like in the other scenario, the minor is only emancipated for the purpose of consenting to receive medical care. 

Court Order

Minors can also become emancipated by filing a petition with the court requesting to be emancipated.

Minor emancipation by court order requires that minors be at least a certain age, depending on state law where they live. A judge will review the petition for emancipation of a minor and decide whether the emancipation is in the best interest of the minor.

When applying for emancipation, a minor must prove several things. If you can prove that your parents don’t object to emancipation, the process is much easier.

If your parents do object, you will need to prove that your parents aren’t financially supporting you and that you can financially support yourself. You must also prove that you can manage your personal and social affairs and that you understand the responsibilities that come with being emancipated.

Parents are still required to support children after minor emancipation, but they are not responsible for debts the emancipated minor incurs. 

Minors who have a juvenile record may have a harder time becoming emancipated. Some states prohibit emancipation for minors who are on probation or completing court-ordered punishments. Other states will require certain conditions to be met for minors with a criminal record.

Some states won’t allow anyone under the age of majority with a criminal record to become emancipated.

The emancipation process can be complicated and hiring a lawyer can help you navigate the system and make your case. 

Can Emancipation Be Reversed?

The answer is yes, but it can be difficult.

Parents and minors can petition the court to cancel the emancipation of a minor. This involves filing a petition to rescind the order of emancipation. 

A judge will cancel an emancipation order if the minor and parents agree to the order being canceled or there has been a reconciliation and the family is living together again. The order may also be canceled if the minor is no longer capable of supporting themselves. 

Do You Need Help With the Emancipation Process?

Hopefully we answered your question, “What does emancipated mean?” The truth is, that the emancipation process is complex and depends on where you live.

Whether you are a minor filing for emancipation or a parent or guardian, an experienced family lawyer can help. 

Click here to find a family law attorney near you today. 


How Does Income Impact Child Custody?

It’s no secret that divorce is stressful. In fact, it’s one of the top five most stressful life events. What makes it even more difficult, however, is when child custody issues are involved. 

Fighting your ex-spouse in court for custody of your child or children can be time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining. There are many factors that impact child custody, and income is one of them. However, the impact of income on child custody isn’t necessarily simple.

Read on to learn more about child custody and how the income of both parents can impact it. 

What Impacts Child Custody? 

Every state has its own laws when it comes to child custody. For the most part, though, each state considers similar factors when determining child custody. Common considerations include: 

  • The age of the child 
  • The child’s wishes (if they are old enough to share their wishes)
  • The parents’ ability to communicate and co-parent
  • The emotional stability of each parent
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Substance abuse from either parent
  • The amount of time the parent spent with the child before the separation 
  • Educational opportunities for the child 
  • Mental and physical health of each parent 
  • Who the primary caretaker was before the separation 

Overall, the courts are typically concerned with the best interests of the child and will make a custody decision based on that. 

Income and Child Custody 

The impact of income on child custody is complicated. Simply having more money or having a higher salary than the other parent does not automatically mean you will get custody of your child. 

While you will have to support your child financially whether you are the custodial parent or not, your income is not going to impact whether the child is placed with you or not. Instead, all of the factors above are considered when determining which child the parent should reside with. 

Income and Child Support

If you are the non-custodial parent, you will be required to pay child support to the custodial parent. Every state does things a little differently, but there are three main models for determining child support payments. 

The income shares model is used in 41 different states and this model assumes that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income from the noncustodial parent that they would if the parents still lived together. 

The percentage of income model awards the custodial parent a percentage of the noncustodial parent’s income. The income of the custodial parent is not considered. There are six states that use a form of the percentage of income model.

The Melson formula is a type of income shares model and the goal is to make sure that the basic needs of the parents, as well as the child(ren) are met.

If you are in a state that uses the percentage of income model, making more money could mean you pay more in support. However, if you and the noncustodial parent earn similar salaries and custody is split 50/50, the court may determine that no child support is necessary, as you have equivalent incomes and spend an equal amount of time with your child.

Child Support and Unemployment

If you are a noncustodial parent and you lose your job, you’ll still be required to contribute to your child’s financial support. The child support order is still in effect even if you are unemployed, but you may be able to pause those payments. You’ll still owe them once you get a job (and often with interest). 

If you file for unemployment benefits, you should tell the unemployment office that you have a child support order and they will deduct child support from your unemployment amount. You may also have to pay a bit more in support once you are employed again to make up for the missed payments.

If you are “voluntarily unemployed” (for example, you quit your job), you are not off the hook for child support. The court will determine your imputed income and assign you an income based on what you could have earned if you were working. Then, they will base child support payments on this amount.

Income Disparities

If you’ve been the primary caretaker of your children and as a result, have not worked outside the home, you may be worried that your spouse will get custody of the children because they have an income and you don’t. The courts will consider this, though, and will treat your role as a caretaker as an actual job.

This is where child support and spousal support come in. If you have been a stay-at-home parent for many years, your ex-spouse may be required to pay you spousal support for a period of time. Because you voluntarily gave up your income to care for your children, the courts will not punish you for that. 

If the courts award primary custody to you, you’ll also likely be granted child support. Just because your spouse has an income and you don’t is not enough to award them primary custody, especially if you were the main caretaker of your children while your spouse worked.

Child Custody Decisions

Determining child custody can be a difficult time for parents, children, and the courts. There are many factors that impact child custody decisions that the courts must weigh in deciding what is best for the child.

If you are engaged in a custody battle, you should consider a child custody attorney. They can represent you in court and help fight for your children. A family law attorney can help improve your odds of obtaining custody of your children even if there are income disparities. 

Our site has many other helpful family law guides as well as information about divorce and how to proceed with a separation. These resources can help you navigate this stressful time in your life with informational support. 

unemployment and child support

Unemployment and Child Support: The Key Facts You Need to Know

Going through a period of unemployment is never easy. If you’re trying to make child support payments while looking for a job, it can be especially stressful.

You may be wondering how you will pay child support while unemployed and how this will affect your existing order. A job loss doesn’t change your child support obligations.

To do that, you must file to modify your child support payments. If you’re facing this situation, it’s important to know your legal rights. 

Here are the facts on unemployment and child support.

Unemployment and Child Support

If you’ve recently lost your job, you may wonder if you have to pay child support while you’re unemployed. 

The answer is a definite “yes.” Your financial obligations do not change or end if your job status changes. You’re still expected to honor your child support order and pay each month.

When you miss a payment, you still owe that amount plus interest. If you get behind on your payments, you could incur additional fees or even jail time.

The courts are not favorable to someone who evades their financial responsibility to their child, whether it’s intentional or not.

Reason for Unemployment

The reason you are unemployed is important if you hope to modify your child support payments. If you left your job without another job in place, your voluntary departure prevents you from receiving a modification of your payment amount.

You can only seek a modification if your unemployment is a result of a sudden or involuntary circumstance.

Child Support Modification

If you’re unemployed and can’t make your normal child support payments, you can request an adjustment to your current child support order. The court bases new child support amounts on your ability to find a similar paying job.

They use your past employment record as a benchmark to determine your potential future earnings. The court refers to this amount as “imputed income.”

The dollar amount depends on a parent’s opportunity, ability, willingness to work, and earning capacity. This is based on skill set, education, past jobs, and other relevant information.

When the unemployed parent is seeking another job and willing to work, the court makes an educated guess regarding future salary and then sets the imputed amount. If the court finds insufficient evidence, they may impute the child support amount to minimum wage.

Each child support case is unique and based on the parents’ particular circumstances. When a non-custodial parent falls on difficult financial times, they should inform the court right away.

You cannot change the amount of child support you pay without seeking a modification. You should contact a qualified family law attorney to help you file a modification. The sooner you start the process, the better. 

Child Support and Unemployment Benefits

First, if you are unemployed, find out if you qualify for unemployment benefits in your state. Be upfront about your outstanding child support payments.

If you’re eligible for unemployment benefits, the state can deduct child support payments from your benefits. If you’re ineligible for benefits because you are underemployed or avoiding employment, the court will defer to your imputed income to calculate child support payments.

The court strongly recommends that individuals with child support obligations find a job and communicate with the court while seeking employment. Once you gain employment, continue your child support payments until they can be deducted from your wages.

Your payment amount may increase to account for the time you were unemployed.

Work With the Court

If you feel your child support payments are too high for what you’re earning, don’t ignore the problem. The court will expect proof that your financial circumstances have changed and you cannot afford to pay the same amount.

It’s best to stay as current as possible on your child support payments and continue to work with the court for a resolution. Child support and child custody are typically based on what’s in the best interest of the child.

Defaulting on child support payments can have long-term consequences. It’s important to be proactive if you lose your job or find yourself unable to pay your monthly child support payment.

Get Legal Help

If you’re facing unemployment, you may find it hard to make ends meet, including paying child support. When you can no longer meet your child support obligations, it’s in your best interest to contact a qualified family law attorney as soon as possible.

A family law attorney understands the complexities of family law, child custody, and child support. Your attorney can help you file for a modification of a child support order. 

No one should have to face the hardships of unemployment and the worries of providing for their child alone. Your attorney can help you understand your rights and navigate the legal process regarding paying child support while unemployed.

Find a Family Law Attorney Near You

Being unemployed is a difficult dilemma to face. When you have child support obligations to meet, it only compounds a stressful situation. 

Losing your job or facing a reduction in pay does not affect a child support order. You’re expected to pay the same amount unless the court grants a modification.

Facing a loss of income and mounting child support payments can be scary and overwhelming. A family law attorney can help you understand the laws regarding unemployment and child support and help you find the best resolution for you and your child.

Don’t try to go it alone. At, we can help you find a family attorney in your area or connect with others who understand what you’re going through. 

custody law

How Custody Law Works in Divorce Proceedings

In a divorce, one of the most emotional battles can be over who gets custody of the children.

The good news is, more than 90% of parents reach a custody resolution on their own. Despite 40% of the states awarding 50/50 custody, 79.9% of custodial parents in the U.S. are mothers.

Even if you and your spouse reach a resolution on child custody, you must meet all requirements under state custody law. This includes consideration for physical custody, legal custody, parenting time/visitation rights, child support, and medical expenses.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about reaching a settlement that meets the legal requirements of your state.

Best Interests of the Child

When making a custody determination, every state uses the “best interest of the child” standard. These are factors a judge considers when making a determination on which parent receives custody. They may vary slightly from state to state, but include:

Child’s Age

While the doctrine regarding a child’s “tender years” has been replaced by a child’s best interests, many judges believe young children should live with their mothers. This is especially significant if the mother has always been the primary caregiver. A nursing mother will definitely have precedence over a father.

Ability to Provide

You must show your ability to meet the child’s basic needs of food, medical care, clothing, etc. Do you have the ability to pay for childcare? Do you have an adequate residential location?

If one parent is awarded the family home in the divorce, the scales lean in their favor for having primary physical custody. Remaining in their home is less disruptive to the child’s life. 

Where you take up residency following the divorce is important. Is the location safe? Does the child have their own bed and bedroom?

What is your home’s proximity to the school the children attend? Are you able to get them to and from school?

The closer you and your ex-spouse reside to each other and the child’s educational and extracurricular activities makes an award of 50/50 parenting time more likely.

Moral Conduct

The court isn’t sitting on your street with binoculars to see if you are dating or have a party that runs until midnight. They are looking for clues that your behavior is not conducive to the proper upbringing of children.

Acts such as reckless driving sanctions, drunkenness, vulgarity, or a history of crime will work against you. If one parent has a relationship with a convicted child pedophile, this puts the children at risk.  

Support Other Parent’s Relationships With Children

A judge is more likely to award custody to a parent that is cooperative and supports the minor children maintaining a relationship with the other parent.

If you tend to bad-mouth the other parent, interfere with the other parent’s time with the children, or do anything to alienate the children from your ex-spouse, you will be the least favorable custodial parent.

Love and Affection

This deals with the emotional bonds between each parent and the child. This includes what parent the child turns to most for comfort and which parent the child prefers to spend time with.

If you barely had time to say hello to your children, never attend parent-teacher conferences, extracurricular activities, etc. you are not going to be viewed favorably as a custodial parent.

If you do an abrupt turnaround following the initiation of the divorce, the judge may respect your new commitment.

The judge will weigh your change of attitude carefully to determine whether you have an honest interest in being an involved parent. They will consider whether your purpose in winning custody is a form of retaliation against your spouse.

Child’s Preference

The judge may give a child’s preference consideration if they are 12 or older. The judge will speak with them privately. What the child says will be held in confidence.

The judge will determine if the child’s preference is credible. This includes phrasing questions to see if the child is being coached by a parent. They will consider whether an older child is favoring a less attentive, more permissive parent.

The judge will also consider professional reports from a child custody evaluator, child therapist, or other professionals. 

Abuse or Neglect

With more than 10 million men and women victims of domestic violence, the judge will take this into consideration. Because of the risk to your safety, the judge may order exchanges of the children to take place at a police department.

If there is concern about abuse toward the children the judge may order visits with the children to be supervised.

Types of Custody

There are different types of custody, and each may be awarded to the mother, the father, or to the parents on an equal 50/50 basis.

  • Legal Custody—the right to make legal decisions about your child, such as education, healthcare, religion, summer camp, etc.
  • Physical Custody—the parent the children live with, with joint custody the children live part of the time with one parent and part of the time with the other parent

If legal custody is joint, then parents must discuss and agree on all legal decisions regarding the child.

If physical custody is joint the parents may divide their custodial time by each having a portion of a week or alternating weeks.

Parenting Time/Visitation

Depending on the state you reside in the time a non-custodial parent spends with their child may go under the term parenting time or visitation. A typical visitation order will alternate weekends and holidays between the parents.

A parenting time order will specify the details of the exchanges. This includes when and where they take place, allowances for a parent being late, how to handle a need to change the schedule, etc.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, the court may also order a parent to have supervised visitation. This is to protect the child when visiting with the parent. The supervision will be by a mutually agreed-upon adult or professional.

Reaching a Resolution

When you’re battling through divorce and child custody, you need to set your differences aside and work toward a resolution in the best interest of your child.

Rather than take the matter to trial, the judge may order the two of you to attend child custody mediation. The hope is you will work out a resolution without the court’s interference.

If you have questions regarding the legal issues of your case, you need to speak with child custody lawyers. They will explain your rights and responsibilities in your state and what they can do to help you.

Get Custody Law Help

Family Law Attorney Near Me is a resource for finding the custody law help you need. We provide access to 16,420 professionals. Simply key in your zip code to find a family law attorney near you.

Check out our Divorce Law section for help with your device. If you have custody and visitation questions or are battling custody after divorce the law requires a change in circumstances. For custody only visit our custody and visitation section

Whether seeking divorce or custody we can help you find an attorney near you. Check us out today!

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid during a Child Custody Case

Over one-quarter of children in the U.S. live with one parent, while their other parent lives in another home. This shows how prevalent divorce and child custody cases are.

If you’re a parent finding yourself in the middle of a child custody case, you may be confused about your parental rights and the uncertainty of the outcome. However, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of gaining and retaining custody or shared custody of your children.

Here’s a list of seven of the most common mistakes parents make when facing a child custody case.

To learn more about child custody and CPS when addiction is involved, click here.  

1. Don’t Badmouth Your Ex to Your Child

It isn’t fair to use your children as a pawn or to create negativity in their minds about your ex. After all, your former partner is still your child’s other parent. Your children deserve the right to form their own opinions about their parents as they grow.

Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you’d feel if you were spending time with each parent and hearing bad things about one of them. It would make you feel confused and stressed, two emotions that your child does not need nor deserve during this lifestyle adjustment.

Resist the temptation to speak of your ex in a negative light when your child is present. If you must, confide privately with a friend or family member without your child being there.

2. Don’t Repeatedly Cancel Visits

Being repeatedly late for picking up your children for visits or having to constantly cancel or reschedule visitations does damage in two ways.

First, it really hurts your child. They will feel that they’re no longer a priority in your life and that you don’t care enough to follow through on spending time with them.

Children need to know they’re still loved and valued by both parents after the relationship ends. One of the best ways of giving them this assurance is to be there for them when you say you will.

Second, this behavior will make you look bad in your ex’s eyes and in the court. It will make the court think you’re not serious about making a commitment to child custody. Your ex can make a record of repeat cancellations and no-shows and use it against you in a court of law.

3. Don’t Disrespect the Court

Always respect court officials and what is asked of you. If you are ordered to take a parenting class or get help for a substance abuse problem, do it. If you are issued a temporary order, you must obey it.

Wear professional clothing when attending court and respect the judge and other court officials. Dressing appropriately shows that you take the child custody hearing seriously, and this small action will help you make a positive impression.

Never lie to the court or your lawyer. The truth always comes out eventually, and it can hurt your parental rights.

4. Don’t Be Anything Other Than a Great Parent

You don’t stop being a parent just because you’re no longer living with the mother or father of your child. So while you no longer have your partner with you, that doesn’t mean you can skimp on raising your child properly.

Be a good parent by creating a safe environment for your child when they’re with you. Any firearms that you own should be securely locked up. Any films you watch with your children should be family movies or age appropriate for them.

You don’t want to leave your children unsupervised or enforce corporal punishment. This information will get back to your ex, and it could get blown out of proportion into a domestic violence issue.

Make sure they have plenty of nourishing, healthy food to eat, and a comfortable place to sleep. Don’t abuse alcohol or take drugs. It may sound like common sense, but you always want to present yourself as the best parent you can possibly be.

5. Don’t Neglect to Pay Child Support

Don’t neglect or forget to pay child support to your ex. They can use this information against you, and you could lose visitation rights.

If you find yourself with a financial hardship whether from a job loss or emergency, do let the judge know. File a motion to make the court aware, and you may receive permission to reduce your child support until you have the funds again.

6. Don’t Take the Kids on a Trip without Letting Your Ex Know

Taking your child on a trip without your ex’s permission can quickly look like a kidnapping situation.

Always ask your ex if you can take your child on a vacation. Provide them with all of the information they need to know, such as contact info for the hotel, flight numbers, and departure and arrival times.

Doing so shows that you can be trusted by both your ex and the court.

7. Don’t Lose Your Cool

Although emotions run high in times of divorce and figuring out child custody rights, try not to get angry with your ex, especially in front of your kids. It’s especially important to avoid any kind of physical contact as that will not help your case and can turn it into a domestic violence incident.

Take a deep breathe and leave the room during a heated argument if you have to. Never threaten your ex and always try to keep the environment as calm as possible.

Winning Your Child Custody Case

Avoiding these seven child custody case mistakes will put you in good standing with the court and help you work out an agreement with your ex sooner rather than later.

If you find yourself facing a child custody case, you need a family attorney who cares about you and your parental rights. Start by conducting a search for family attorneys near you.

6 Things to Ask Your Family Attorney

6 Things to Ask Your Family Attorney

Family attorneys are an important legal resource. A family attorney is a lawyer specializing in family law primarily covering marriage, divorce, child custody, child support and related legal matters. This is a considerable portion of legal activity in the United States and in many countries around the world.

Just last year alone, $32.3 billion was collected in child support through state and child programs, according to the Office of Child Support Enforcement of the Administration of Children and Families. Plus, the most recent divorce rate in the U.S. was reported as 2.9 per 1,000 population, as published by the National Center for Health Statistics. Divorce and custody battles are common in today's world. Anyone going through a challenging family time should know that they have access to legal expertise through family attorneys.

If you're looking to hire a family attorney, or you already have one on board, you will want to have open and honest conversations about what you're experiencing and what solutions you want to see. Here are six questions you will want to ask your family attorney, in order to have the best possible experience.

What is Parental Responsibility and How do You Address This?

Any family attorney you hire should have a clear understanding of parental responsibility. This is a set of rights and privileges that children have with their parents or guardians as the foundation of their relationships. This includes hands-on parenting time as well as decision making.

Parental responsibility accounts for parents who prioritize planning and preparing for their child's present-day well being and future. When making legal arguments, family attorneys will present parental responsibility and how their client fulfills these duties.

How Does the Court Decide Where the children Live?

Ask your family attorney is how the court determines parental custody. There are many different custody agreements with different conditions. Some parents prefer joint custody, where the kids spend roughly half their time with each parent. Other cases involve a primary custodial parent and a non-custodial parent who visits or sees their child from time to time.

The court takes a lot into consideration when it determines where the children will live and with whom. The court is supposed to make these decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child. Your family attorney can help you determine what's best for your child, and how you can demonstrate this as your legal case proceeds.

What Percentage of Your Cases Settle Outside of Court?

Next, ask your family attorney about their professional track record. You have a right to ask them how many of their cases settle out of court or proceed to trial. You may have an ideal resolution in mind.

Maybe you and your ex are staying on friendly terms, and you're confident that your case can be settled relatively smoothly. Some divorcing parents need to go to trial to get their matters sorted.

When you hire a family attorney, you want to have an idea of what you can expect from their services and their expertise. You should communicate with them about what you would like to achieve as a result of your family legal matters. Expressing your expectations and desired outcomes will assist your family attorney in better helping you.

How Many Cases Like Mine Have You Resolved?

Ask your family attorney about their previous experience with cases like yours. You want someone who is well-versed in situations similar to yours. If your family attorney seems confident and capable in their abilities to resolve your case effectively and efficiently, then this is probably a good match.

While the legal world may be over your head, these individuals have dedicated their entire lives and careers to helping families during times of transition and change. It's in your best interests to work with a family attorney who has reached solutions in comparable cases.

What Do You Recommend for Mediation?

Mediation is a process often used in legal matters that involves the presence of a neutral third party helping parties in conflict. Divorce mediation is common for those who want to try and keep their split out of the court system.

By sitting down and talking out their differences, former couples can often reach agreements regarding their children, their property and other priorities. When you chat with your family attorney about mediation, they can give you some insight into this process. Mediation is often a good starting point.

You can see if you can reach an agreement without escalating the matter any further. Your family attorney will be there to guide you through mediation and help you prepare for these sensitive, often emotional discussions. The more you know and understand about mediation, the better off you'll be.

How Much Will Your Expertise Cost?

When it comes to family law, you want to ask the tough questions about costs before getting heavily involved in this legal process. Your family attorney should be able to give you an accurate estimate of how much their services cost.

Some attorneys work on retainer, and there may be hourly rates involved, as well. You will also want to be upfront and ask about any hidden fees that may come into play, such as filing fees, photocopying or travel expenses.

If you're not careful about your legal spending, it can come back to bite you, so you want to make sure you find an affordable solution for family attorneys. By taking the steps to financially plan for your family attorney, you should have a much better experience overall.

If you're ready to have your questions answered and move forward with this process, get in touch with a reputable, trustworthy family attorney today!

What A Family Attorney Can Do For You

What A Family Attorney Can Do For You

Photographer: Sebastian Pichler | Source: Unsplash

What exactly is a family attorney and when would you need one? A family attorney is someone who looks after any legal matters that affect a family. It would seem that the title is self-explanatory, but in fact it's a little complex. If you're very lucky, you'll never need the services of one, however, it's rare that families won't need an attorney at some point. In order to ensure the best handling of your affairs, it's best to find someone who is experienced in the legal matters that surround your specific situation.

Most people think that family attorneys only deal with divorces, but there are many other legalities that they deal with including adoption, child custody, guardianship and wills. If someone decides to take a case against another member of the family, that's another case when a family attorney would be required. Below you can find explanations on the different types of issues that a family attorney can handle.


Even though divorce rates appear to be decreasing, it's still a sad fact that just under 50% of marriages end in divorce. Going through a divorce is challenging for all family members involved. Even if both parties plan to have an amicable split, there can be unforeseen circumstances that arise in the process. Emotions make it quite difficult to handle everything without any outside assistance. This is one of the most important times to get the help of a family attorney. They can act as a mediator and advise both parties on how to settle the matter cleanly. They can also assert their legal obligations to each other. Most divorces do not need to go to court. Having a good family attorney can help couples avoid the hassle, pain and expense of a court case. If the split is acrimonious at all, it makes sense to each consult separate family attorneys to manage the divorce.

Pre-Marriage Legal Advice

When people are in the blush of love and planning a wedding, they may not consider any legal advice. However, this is an important time to consult a family attorney. They can help you plan for the future and safeguard documents and finances. A family attorney can help you draft a prenuptial agreement that is fair. It may seem unromantic, but many people have been very thankful in the long-run. Family attorneys can also help with marriage registration in some states.

Handling Adoption

Adopting a child is a huge emotional step for a family, but it is a big legal step, as well. A good family attorney should be consulted in advance to ensure that everything is above board. When adopting, there are several processes to adhere to, and if you are moving a child across state lines, then you must be very careful that you have followed the letter of the law. Consult a family attorney near you so that you can welcome your newest family member without any issues.

Child Custody Agreements

Many families these days are formed in different ways. Some couples may not be married but may have a child together. When the couple splits, regardless of the scenario, figuring out how to manage the children of the relationship can become a problem. As children are so cherished, it can become a very emotional argument as to who gets to keep them and when. A family attorney can help mediate the situation and draw up a child custody agreement that both parents can follow. Your family attorney can also amend this agreement at a later date should there be any changes to the living situations. Once again, people can save a lot of money by hiring a good family attorney, in order to avoid lengthy court battles over their children.


When a family member is sick or losing control of their faculties, it may be necessary to appoint a guardian for them. Family attorneys understand the ramifications of this and can assist in the process, which can be long and rather confusing if you aren't familiar with the legalities. It can seem like an insurmountable pile of paperwork, but this will be navigated with ease by a family attorney. This will ensure that everything is done legally and prevent any problems arising from the guardianship.

Estates and Wills

A will is a legal document through which people state how they would like their property to be managed when they die. If you have very little and your situation is straightforward, then you can make a will yourself but getting it checked by a family law attorney will ensure that you have covered everything.

If there is an estate to be settled upon a family member's death, a family attorney can ensure that it is executed in the correct way. They can also assist with any disputes that may arise when settling the estate.

Court Representation

Although the aim of family attorneys is to settle as much as possible outside of court, sometimes it's necessary to go through this process. If it is a matter of divorce, custody or estate, then it is best to have a family attorney representing. They will help get justice for the litigant. Make sure you choose someone with extensive experience so that they have the practical know-how as well as the legal theory to back it up.

Family attorneys deal with emotional, legal and financial affairs. They can navigate the minefield where these things meet in order to make life easier. It's good to find one nearby and have a chat with them as to how they can help with your family matters.