By Michael W. Bouldin
In my 15 years of practice in Northern Kentucky, I’ve seen many fathers come in for a consultation not even knowing what questions to ask. Many believe that they automatically will be required to pay alimony.
Some simply presume that they might be entitled to visit with their children every other weekend and want to know how much they will have to pay in child support. Others believe they are automatically entitled to 50% of the time with their children. Neither is correct.
Alimony, maintenance and spousal support are only considered if one party is unable to financially meet their reasonable needs. There should be no more consideration given if that party is a male or female. The relative earning ability of the parties and the reasonable expenses of each are the first factors to be considered. There are many cases in which neither party is required to pay alimony to the other.
Fathers in Kentucky are entitled to the same consideration as a mother with respect to the care of their children. Joint legal custody is presumed to be in the best interest of the children. Joint legal custody deals with decision making and does not necessarily mean an equality of time with the children. Both parents are presumed to be equal and many judges will tell parents that children deserve both a father and a mother. That said, no one is “automatically” entitled to any time with their children. Most courts, particularly in the major cities and where family courts exist, give equal consideration to both parents. The courts always keep the best interest of the children as the paramount goal. The first question to be answered is if either parent poses a danger to the child(ren). In the absence of danger to the children, the parents’ work schedules are first considered and parents are given preference over non-parents (grandparents, relatives, daycare, etc.). Many fathers wish to be 50/50 partners in child rearing, however their work or travel schedules preclude such frequent parenting.
Child support is based on a schedule which presumes one parent to be the “primary” parent for the children. As discussed above, there are many cases in which neither parent is the primary parent and they jointly provide the custody and parenting responsibilities. This may result in a deviation from the standard child support schedule. If a deviation is made, the courts will then determine division of all expenses: medical and dental insurance, uncovered medical and dental expenses, extracurricular, daycare, school, supplies, school related activities, and clothing.
These are but a few of the concerns and considerations which a father should be well apprised of when beginning a divorce. The guidance of an experienced attorney will greatly assist in evaluating options prior to determining a course of action. Fortunately (or unfortunately), many times divorcing fathers are given the additional responsibilities without the defined familial roles which allow them to become the wonderful parent that they wished they could have been during the marriage.
*Legal Disclaimer. Nothing herein is designed to give legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. The above is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Each individual divorce, like each individual person, is unique and may result in varied legal advice. You should contact a divorce attorney to answer any specific questions you may have, to ascertain the unique facts of your case, to discuss your specific questions and advise you with respect to your divorce.