Child custody cases are incredibly difficult for parents in many ways. Not only is the thought of losing time to spend with your child distressing, but a custody order typically involves child support terms and other elements that can pose significant challenges for other aspects of your life. Ultimately, any parent is likely to have lots of questions as they prepare for a child custody and support case.

The following are some of the most common questions parents have about child support and child custody in the Midwest. Your case is likely to involve many unique issues, but these basic questions can help clarify many of the concerns parents have in these situations. Review these questions and answers as you prepare for your custody determination.

Child custody and child support FAQs

Q: How Can I Obtain Custody of My Child?

A: As you prepare for a custody determination, it’s natural to want to secure the most expansive custody rights possible. However, you must understand that the family court judge handling your dispute will have the final say on the matter. Regardless of how convincing you may think your position is, the final decision rests in the hands of the judge, and they may not interpret the facts of the case the same way you interpret them. Ultimately, you need to make the best case for custody rights by demonstrating that you are an active and positive influence in your child’s life. Keep yourself involved in your child’s day-to-day activities as your case progresses. Your attorney can assist you in gathering any evidence or character references you may need to provide and submit to the judge for consideration.

Q: Which Parent Pays Child Support?

A: Whenever a judge resolves a child custody dispute, they will also settle child support. Both parents are expected to contribute equally to covering their child’s financial needs. When one parent assumes a more significant share of physical or residential custody than the other, the court interprets this as inherently satisfying their side of the financial support obligation. The other parent would then pay child support. There are multiple factors involved in any child support determination, and the final decision comes down to the judge handling the case.

Q: What Do I Do If I Believe My Child’s Other Parent Is Dangerous?

A: Family court judges are legally obligated to rule in favor of protecting the best interests of any child the ruling will affect. If one parent has a history of child abuse, domestic violence, or violent crime, it is unlikely for the judge to give that parent any significant level of custody. Even if the parent with a criminal record has apparently reformed and completed some type of rehabilitation, they are only likely to receive limited supervised visits at most. If you have any reason to believe your child’s other parent poses a substantial threat to your child’s health and safety, and you have concerns about whether the judge will give these issues the appropriate attention they require, it’s vital to consult your attorney as soon as possible to determine the best approach to this situation.

Q: What Happens If a Parent Fails to Pay Child Support?

A: Failure to pay child support can lead to severe penalties, including wage garnishment, asset seizure, or even imprisonment. If a parent has encountered a problem that prevents them from meeting their support obligation, they must notify the court immediately and provide a clear explanation as to why the issue is beyond their control. In addition, it’s possible to request a reasonable change to your support obligation if you have experienced recent life events that interfere with your ability to pay.

Q: What Happens If a Parent Violates a Custody Order?

A: Parents who violate the terms of their custody orders can face a wide range of repercussions. They may be fined, jailed, or will likely lose their custody rights. Parental kidnapping, unlawful travel with a child, and refusal to grant visitation are just a few examples of commonly reported custody order violations in the Midwest. Therefore, it’s vital for parents to closely abide by the terms of their custody agreements. While unexpected issues might arise, any consistent, willful, or severe violations of a custody order can lead to contempt of court and even prosecution in some cases.

Q: Can I Change a Custody or Support Order?

A: The modification process allows parents to petition the family court for reasonable and necessary adjustments to their custody orders and child support obligations. If you believe you have grounds to request a good change, you must draft a petition for modification that explains the changes you seek and the reasoning behind these changes. Then, a hearing will be scheduled, and both you and your co-parent can speak on the issue. When a judge determines a request is both necessary and reasonable, they can implement the requested change, usually with immediate effect.

Q: How Can a Parent Lose Custody Rights?

A: Parents may lose custody rights in response to a violation of a custody order or a conviction of a crime, or they may voluntarily relinquish their custody rights. However, none of these incidents would cancel the parent’s child support obligation. The parent would be required to continue paying child support even if they have no custody or visitation rights. Their child support obligation will only end if they or the child dies or a stepparent married to the custodial parent is willing to adopt the child.

Child support and child custody cases are some of the most emotionally stressful family law cases for any parent, and it’s natural to have lots of questions about what you can expect in your impending case. However, navigating this type of family law matter is much easier when you have reliable and experienced legal representation on your side. A family law attorney can help you understand what you can expect as your custody and support determinations unfold, but they can also assist you in making a compelling case for custody and ensuring a fair support order. If you are unsure how to prepare for your impending custody and support determination, consult an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.