Ask A Lawyer: Support Vs. Custody

Question:

My husband has two children from a previous marriage. He pays $700 a month in child support monthly and only gets to see the children every other weekend, due to the mother having full custody of both children.

When the divorce took place he did not have a lawyer, due to him not having a lawyer he did not get shared cutody. He pays and he does not even get to claim a child on his taxes yearly. We live right down the street from the children and they school district is the same.

How do we go about getting 50/50 custody of the children?

 

Answer:    The first distinction to make is that child support and parenting time are not directly related.  A Father who gets to see his children more does not necessarily pay less child support.  Additionally, if a Father is not paying child support, that’s not necessarily a reason to deny him parenting time.  It is true that in some states, a parent obligated to pay child support may be able to get a parenting time reduction in his monthly obligation when the schedule provides him with a certain amount of parenting time. 

It seems that there are two issues to your question – the child support and the parenting time schedule.  The best way to approach this is to honestly answer the question:  What schedule of parenting time does your husband think is in the best interests of his children?  If that’s a 50/50 schedule, or anything different than what he has now, and there are reasons to support the claim that a modification is necessary, then he should file a motion for that modification.  The fact that you live so close to the children’s mom is a good thing and will definitely be a positive factor in your husband’s pursuit of more parenting time.  When the modification is resolved, based on what schedule is either agreed to or ordered by the court, there may be the need to add a reduction to the child support obligation.

Now, if the main issue is child support, then you need to consult with an attorney who can run the numbers for you and see whether it would be worth your time and resources to file for a child support modification.  There are several factors that go into determining the monthly obligation, and as you alluded to, the dependent exemption is one of those factors.  In Kansas, if the recipient parent claims the exemption every year, then the paying parent is entitled to reduction in his monthly child support obligation.  That being said, there are other factors that may increase the child support obligation, which is why you should consult with an attorney before deciding to pursue a child support modification.
 

Claudia J. Weaver is an Associate Attorney with Cordell & Cordell, P.C., in Overland Park, Kansas. Ms. Weaver practices exclusively in the area of domestic relations.

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One comment on “Ask A Lawyer: Support Vs. Custody

    HAVEN’T HEARD FROM DAUGHTERS IN A YEAR
    Last year,2007-08, I had placement of my 4 daughters, ages 8-14. The summer of 2008, the judge allowed their mother to have placement during her tour of duty in the Army in South Korea. The judge informed her that she must continue to comply with the orders in the case to include phone contact and holiday visits. Since she left the states on June 13, 2008, we have had no contact with any of my children. I was awarded placement of my oldest daughter, Chelsea, and yet her mother has only called her once during this time and denied Chelsea time to talk to her sisters. i am afraif for my children’s mental state and overall welfare. has the mother violated the law?

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